Expert: Procter & Gamble Co. plotting expansion of its Always brand that would include adult diapers

Always Discreet could lead category launch

CINCINNATI - Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing to announce a major expansion of its Always feminine care brand to include new products targeting adult incontinence, an industry expert told WCPO.

P&G will launch a new line of panty liners and adult diapers under the Always Discreet brand name, said Tom Wilson, a former global president for feminine care products at Kimberly-Clark Corp. He predicts P&G will spend $150 million on marketing support in the U.S. alone. He said the company is telling retailers to expect a sustained three-year commitment from the new brand.

“Procter & Gamble is very serious about this category and they’re going to spend whatever it takes to be successful. They’re not going to give it a six month push and say, ‘That didn’t work,’” said Wilson, who blogs about the industry and sells incontinence products at The CareGiver Partnership .

P&G declined comment, but analysts have been predicting that the company would return to the adult-incontinence category for the first time in 15 years.

“We think P&G is most likely to enter the incontinence market in North America, Western Europe and Asia,” Bernstein Research analyst Ali Dibadj wrote in a June 27 report. “We think the company could see about $800 million in incremental sales from incontinence in the next few years.”

Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller told analysts in June that P&G company would enter a new product category in the next six months that would “move the needle” on sales and address “a chronic consumer issue.” Moeller added the new product would “improve existing offerings in meaningful ways to cumulatively build consumer preference.”

Wilson competed against P&G as a Kimberly-Clark executive in the 1990s before P&G sold its Attends brand and exited the adult-incontinence category. Wilson has been talking to industry contacts for weeks about P&G’s plans to re-enter the category and he's convinced the company is assembling one of the biggest launch campaigns in its history for the new Always brand.

“This clearly has the capability of being a billion-dollar brand and it could move the needle for Procter & Gamble,” Wilson said. “For all strategic reasons, this makes perfect sense. It’s a proven brand name worldwide. A female starts using Always at age 12. Well, now they have her through age 70.”

Wilson expects P&G to maximize efficiencies by manufacturing the new products on the same machines as feminine care pads and diapers. He expects P&G to be shipping by this fall “a full line of 24 items (pads and pull on underwear for women in different pack counts).”

Wilson thinks P&G will enter the market with a lightly-scented product that eliminates odors and “absorbs in seconds.” The Always brand tested a Discreet line of incontinence products in the UK. Wilson thinks that is the name P&G will use in the U.S., but it could launch under other names globally.

"They've done a spectacular job keeping the lid on this," Wilson said, adding that P&G wouldn't confirm his predictions but didn't refute them either.

Once the product is established, Wilson thinks P&G could follow with a pessary device that is inserted into the vagina to control bladder leakage. Wilson said P&G and Kimberly-Clark both have patents for pessaries but neither has introduced commercial versions of the medical device.

"There may be a major hurdle to introducing pessaries ... a fear of unknown health risks. After all, this is an internally worn device," Wilson wrote in a recent blog post.


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