CHANGES ABOUND IN TAMPON MARKET;PRICES, SHOPS CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE; NEW PRODUCTS, RIVAL FORTHCOMING

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The increasingly competitive tampon market, racked by price promotions, is yielding a spate of new products and agency shifts.

Tambrands will begin shipping Tampax Non-Applicator Naturals-its first brand without an applicator for the U.S.-in September, and follow up in late 1996 with national TV, print and extensive sampling.

The company would not disclose the marketing budget but it's estimated at close to $20 million, about 29% less than the $28 million March launch of flagship 100% cotton Naturals with applicators.

The new Tampax brand extension will follow Johnson & Johnson's introduction this month of an o.b. tampon with applicator. The o.b. line had featured only non-applicator tampons.

Separately, tampons are about to face competition from a new type of rival called Instead, from UltraFem. The product, a patented menstrual cup, will be unveiled next month as UltraFem begins a rollout on the West Coast.

Instead is expected to be supported with print ads, sampling and a PR drive. TV may be added later. Bozell Worldwide, New York, will handle all marketing.

Tambrands currently uses BBDO Worldwide as global agency on its $65 million account, while o.b. uses Cadwell Davis Partners.

ASSIGNMENTS IN DOUBT?

But Tambrands last week began a global review that, in addition to BBDO, includes J. Walter Thompson Co., McCann-Erickson Worldwide and FCB/Leber Katz Partners.

Executives close to J&J said that company will continue an agency consolidation of its feminine products that began last fall with a shift of $15 million in business from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising to Ammirati Puris Lintas. J&J is expected to move o.b. to Ammirati.

Earlier this year, Tambrands denied rumors it was dissatisfied with BBDO's work and contemplating a review.

Tambrands VP-Business Development Janey Loyd insisted the review decision was made after the company's second-quarter earnings and sales were tallied. Sales for first half of 1996 were $330.3 million, down 3.8% from a year ago.

Price promotions also have driven down total category sales. According to Information Resources Inc., the tampon category for the 52 weeks ended June 30 hit $651.1 million, down 5.45% from a year ago.

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