Sponsored By

August 20, 2002

6 Min Read
Market Snapshot: Personal care and consumer products


Braun's electric shaver with self-cleaning capability and a new line of steam irons are some of the new products being introduced by consumer and personal care OEMs.

Personal care and consumer products cover a lot of territory. Everything from cosmetics to shavers to household appliances—both large and small—to toothpaste and deodorant cuts across this wide product spectrum offering molding opportunities. These segments have seen some positive results over the past year, generally reflecting the strength of both in spite of slipping consumer confidence.

Personal Care
Among personal care OEMs, Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati, OH) has maintained its strength as a leader. With 2001 sales of $40 billion, the company churns out products for 250 brands to consumers in 140 countries. Products run the gamut from toothpaste to Pringles and Pantene shampoo to Iams pet foods. And the company invests nearly $2 billion a year in R&D.

P&G's most recent new venture is a licensing agreement with Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. to cobrand a new line of hair dryers using the Pantene Pro-V trademark. The new, ionic technology hair dryers are expected to begin shipping to major mass-market retailers this fall.

Kimberly-Clark, also a leader in the manufacture of personal care products, chalked up annual sales of $14.5 billion in 2001.

The Gillette Co., with nearly $9 billion in annual sales in 2001, is best known for its line of men's and women's shavers, including blades and shaving preparations. Part of the Gillette family is Braun GmbH, based in Germany, which produces a line of household products including shavers, oral care products, and small household appliances such as blenders and coffeemakers. Braun introduced a portfolio of new products at the 2002 International Housewares Show (Jan. 13—16).

Three new lines have been added to Braun's wide range of household products and include the AromoDeluxe Coffeemakers, the Multiquick Professional Handblenders, and a line of steam irons. The company has also introduced a moderately priced electric shaver with a "Clean & Charge" self-cleaning feature, something that "strengthens our position as a category leader," notes Gillette's Fred Howard, Sr. VP and GM, commercial operations North America.

Among Gillette's suppliers is Precise Technology Inc. (North Versailles, PA), a leading custom injection molder of consumer products, with specialty plants—called customer-aligned production (CAP) facilities—that focus on high-volume production for some of the biggest names in the consumer market.

Precise is a stellar supplier to Gillette, having recently won that OEM's Omnimark Award for excellence in quality and service for the third consecutive year. Precise Holden (MA) is a Gillette CAP facility dedicated to two of Gillette's most popular products, the Mach 3 razor organizer and the Venus ladies' razor compact.

"We find that this is a market that has grown and held stable even in tough economic times," notes Ed Wilson, senior GM for Precise. "Both the razor projects, the Mach 3 and the Venus project, have proven successful for Gillette and Precise, and have held steady in an economy that has seen fluctuations."

In Gillette's most recent report, the company saw increases in sales and profits for Q2, helped by increased demand for razors and toothbrushes, and continued cost-cutting measures. The company's net income jumped 27 percent to $293 million, compared with $232 million for the same period a year earlier.

Cosmetics are a huge segment of the personal care industry, and the business for a wide variety of containers, jars, lids, and specialty packaging seems to keep growing, even in a down economy. In fact, according to a study by The Freedonia Group (Cleveland, OH), the U.S. market for cosmetic and toiletry containers will reach $3 billion in 2005, driven by demographic shifts and continuing new product introductions, especially those aimed at males, teens, and children.

Avon Products, for example, has $6 billion in annual sales. In May, the company announced it will increase its investment in R&D by more than $100 million between 2002 and 2005. A new, state-of-the-art R&D center in Springdale, OH will allow the company to create "exciting new products for women utilizing leading-edge technologies" to meet "escalating consumer demand for science-based beauty products," said Avon's chairman and CEO Andrea Jung.

Major appliance makers saw relatively good sales during the first six months, in spite of lower consumer confidence. However, most are predicting slower sales during the last six months as consumers put off major purchases. But that's not holding back the big appliance OEMs from expanding.

Maytag Corp. (Newton, IA) announced in July that it will establish an additional subassembly operation in Reynosa, Mexico to support its major appliance manufacturing operations in the U.S. The Mexico expansion includes the acquisition of a second production facility, expected to be operational by the end of the year.

There's more collaboration between companies as appliance makers seek cutting-edge products to entice consumers. In March, Jenn-Air (a Maytag brand) and Maytag teamed up to introduce a new Jenn-Air Luxury Series built-in, side-by-side refrigerator that can be customized to meet the consumer's needs. Maytag also introduced its new Jetclean II, the first three-rack dishwasher.

And if you thought the Jetsons were cool, wait until you see this next product. The Hoover Co., a division of Maytag, announced that it has teamed up with Friendly Robotics in a strategic alliance for the joint design and development of a robotic vacuum cleaner, the first for the North American market. The partnership pairs the innovative cleaning technology and design expertise of Hoover with Friendly's RoboScan navigational technology, which enables an appliance to systematically cover a given area such as a yard or the surface of a home without any prior knowledge about shape and obstacles in the area.

Whirlpool Corp. (Benton Harbor, MI) is also having a good year. It debuted numerous new appliances at the International Builders Show in Atlanta earlier this year, including the new Polara Refrigerated Range, which allows the consumer to refrigerate food up to 24 hours before it automatically begins cooking it. The Polara became available at retail stores in July.

Whirlpool saw its Q2 net income rise 19 percent. On June 5, the company acquired Brandt SA's shares in Polar SA, a leader in home appliance manufacturing based in Poland, for $24 million and assumption of $18 million of debt, giving Whirlpool a 95 percent stake in the firm. And on July 3, the company announced it completed the acquisition of Vitromatic SA de CV, Mexico's second largest appliance manufacturer and distributor. Vitromatic had been a joint venture of Vitro SA and Whirlpool. Additionally, Whirlpool announced that it is moving production of its cooking items from Montmagny, PQ to Oxford, MS and Tulsa, OK in 2004. The Canadian plant will close. 

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like