“Liquid Pads” and “Koala”: surprising words for sanitary pads

“Liquid Pads” and “Koala”: surprising words for sanitary pads

Growing at only 15% year-over-year on tmall.com, the sanitary pad category is not a growth leader in China.

As a reference, the Alibaba e-commerce platform registered a 27% overall annual revenue growth on Nov 11, 2018, which reflects three factors: net industry growth across categories, continued shifts from offline to online, and tmall’s net market share gain from competing platforms.

How about individual categories? I used Yimian’s YiDrone consumer insight discovery tool to check.

Stable existing categories such as shampoo and toothpaste showed growth rates similar to the overall marketplace.

In contrast, the sanitary pad category showed only 16% of year-over-year growth year to date. The top 5 brands in this category include

  • Sofy brand by Japan-based Unicharm, 18%
  • Whisper brand by P&G, 15%
  • SPACE7 brand by China-based Hengan, 13%
  • Kotex brand by Kimberly-Clark, 8%
  • LadyCare brand by Hong Kong-based C-Bons, 6%

Among these five, Kotex and LadyCare, unfortunately, failed to grow Year-To-Date sales versus 2018. Sofy and SPACE7 are growing at a single-digit percentage rate, lagging behind the category’s already humble average.

However, Whisper is showing a strong growth rate of 76%! Whisper is the equivalent of P&G’s Always brand marketed in China.

What did they do right?

YiDrone not only shows the statistics of revenue and market share but also shows the trending hot keywords measured by associated revenue and growth.

Two hot keywords are driven by Whisper: “Liquid Pads”(液体卫生巾) and “Koala Panties”(考拉安睡裤).

How can “Liquid Pads” help absorb liquids?

What does the Australian marsupial have to do with feminine care?

It turns out that “Liquid Pads” is the localized Chinese buzz word for P&G’s Flex Foam technology used in Always Infinity product line. In an effort to promote the 10x absorbent material “made from water”, P&G came up with a very simple but odd Chinese term “Liquid Pads”, instead of using the English term of Flex Foam. They have been promoting this technology since 2014 and contracted the popular young actress Dilireba as the brand ambassador. They are selling the Always-branded Infinity products imported from North America.

In addition, they started the new product “night panties” to improve sleep confidence during female periods. They creatively personalized the new product with a cartoon image of a Koala bear, reminding people of a cozy hug. This product is made in China.

In summary, Whisper’s following tactics are likely contributors to its recent growth.

  • Allow time for consumers to accept a new technology
  • Contract Key Opinion Leaders in a local market
  • Use memorable local language instead of original English terms or direct translations
  • Speak to Generation Y’s playful culture
  • Leverage both imports and local-made in the portfolio

Please email me at zhangrong[at]yimian[dot]com[dot]cn with your category-specific questions about China’s online consumer market, I will see if Yimian’s YiDrone tool can provide a quick answer.


(image: David Clode on unsplash.com)

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