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Grow Your Business with Fem Care

The Fem Care market is worth £450m a year, which is more than big enough for it to be classified as ‘essential for my store’. Understanding all the different products and formats and knowing how a shopper decides what to buy is important if you want to stock the right range, but the level of knowledge across the wholesale and convenience channel is mixed. Never fear… read on, and I will explain all.

Matt Stanton - Head of Insight

4 Minutes

/ 16th November 2022
  • Sales & Distribution
  • Category Insight

First things first… there are three distinct sub-categories – monthly (or ‘period’ products), pantyliners, and adult incontinence. Each performs a very different function, although some shoppers sometimes mix them up.

There is a fact that surprises many people. The largest sub-category is not period products, as most people expect. In fact, the largest is adult incontinence, with a 48% share of the total category. Period products account for 43%, and pantyliners make up the remaining 9%.

Whilst the three sub-categories do have different functions, the way people shop for each one is very similar. Brand loyalty is high, and brand is the first factor a shopper considers when choosing what to buy. Next comes ‘form’ or ‘tier’ – essentially the type of product and whether it’s entry-level, mid-tier, or premium. Absorbency comes next (or ‘protection level’ in the case of liners), and it’s important to have a range of different absorbencies to suit as many shoppers as possible.

Adult incontinence (AI) is in long-term growth. One in three women and one in eight men aged 18-75 suffer some form of urinary incontinence, and these numbers are on the increase due to factors such as increased obesity and an ageing population. It’s usually associated with people in older age groups, but it’s more common than you might think in younger people too – just over one in ten women aged 18-29 experience issues.

The subject of incontinence has historically been taboo and unspoken – sufferers experienced embarrassment and were not comfortable admitting that they are having difficulties. This is lifting over time, supported by various campaigns aimed at normalising the problem and giving people the confidence to speak about it. As a result, more and more shoppers are choosing to buy dedicated products, rather than using other solutions such as period products and liners.

What this means is that it’s important to have the right range on shelf. The two main AI formats are pads and pants, and each comes in a range of different absorbencies. The best-sellers are shown in the list at the bottom of this page. Tena is the leading brand, followed by Always Discreet.

The period products sub-category is a little unusual, in that it’s intimately familiar to 50% of people (give or take), and much less familiar to the remaining 50%. That’s a huge over-generalisation by me, of course, but it is nonetheless a real-life dynamic that doesn’t exist in most other major categories, such as laundry or household.

Pads are the largest period product, making up roughly two-thirds of the period product market. Tampons make up the remaining third. The top three brands make up 78% of the total market, with Always at No 1 (£108m) followed by Tampax (£49m) and Bodyform (£28m).

Top Selling SKUs






Always Ultra Night Pads 9’s



Tampax Compak Regular Tampons 18’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Lady Discreet Normal Incontinence Pads 12 pack



Always Dailies Long Plus Liners 44’s



Always Ultra Long Plus Pads 11’s



Tampax Compak Super Tampons 18’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Super Incontinence Pants Large 12’s



Bodyform Ultra Normal Pads 12’s



Always Dailies Normal Liners 60’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Lights Incontinence Liners 20’s