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Adult Incontinence Category Is Booming

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Personal care brands Depend, Tena and Poise are on a mission to remove the social stigma of adult incontinence, with a flurry of new campaigns and product launches targeting boomers.

A new spot for Kimberly-Clark's Poise, a brand that provides “protection for frequent, unexpected wetness,” shows actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg candidly talking about the frequent uncontrolled “squirt.” Poise also ran a spot during Sunday's Oscars pre-show that featured Goldberg, its newest spokesperson, talking about the condition through the lens of different, historical female personalities. “I went [loud sneeze] and my God, such a puddle,” says Goldberg (dressed as the Statue of Liberty) in the spot. MindShare Entertainment handles. Goldberg also appears in a series of K-C webisodes, which highlight the growing problem of light bladder leakage.

Separately, K-C this month begins shipping Depend Variety packs, gender-specific adult incontinence underwear. The products, which are sold in a six-pack, are meant to resemble “real underwear,” said K-C brand manager Blake Boulden.

Meanwhile, K-C rival Tena, the No. 3 player in the $1.3 billion U.S adult incontinence category, this month will launch new Tena Ultra Thins, a female incontinence pad. The improved and less bulky padding isn’t common in the moderate-to-heavy-leakage segment, and yet, it provides more discretion to the female incontinence product user, said Spence Deane, personal care products marketing vp at SCA Personal Care North America, Tena’s parent company. (Tena formerly marketed its products as Serenity in the U.S.)

The adult incontinence category is changing, and it’s not just due to the estimated 25 million Americans experiencing the symptoms. Companies like K-C and Tena—and even food manufacturers like ConAgra Foods and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay—have recognized the growing influence and power of the nation’s more than 70 million baby boomers. Ad spending in the category, too, has jumped 17.6 percent from $34 million in 2008 to $40 million in 2009, excluding online, per the Nielsen co.

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