TAMPAX COTTONS TO NEW NATURALS

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Tambrands hasn't marketed an all-cotton tampon since 1966. Now it's about to reintroduce the concept with an estimated $28 million in marketing support-the most it has ever spent on a single launch.

Tampax Naturals is part of President-CEO Ed Fogarty's plan to steal back the 10 or so share points his company lost to the $1.1 billion sanitary napkin business in the wake of toxic shock syndrome 10 years ago.

For years after, sales in the $700 million tampon category stagnated but finally came alive in 1994 as unit growth hit 4% without any significant product news. This year, accelerated by new products from Tambrands and its rivals, growth has reached 6.1% for the year to date.

"A market that was considered mature is being driven by new products, parity pricing between pads and tampons, and targeted advertising," Mr. Fogarty said.

An aggressive marketer of new products, Mr. Fogarty has already overseen the January kickoff of Satin Touch and the recent relaunch of flagship Tampax tampons with a new flushable applicator.

Though Satin Touch has cannibalized the Tampax flagship line a bit, its nearly 6% unit share helped boost Tambrands' overall second-quarter dollar share to 50.8% and unit share to 54.9%, up respectively from 49.6% and 52.2% for the year-ago period, according to A.C. Nielsen Co.

Tampax Naturals is expected to pick up another 5 or 6 share points, pulling consumers from other tampon and sanitary pad brands.

"In consumer tests, cotton is like baking soda. People attribute all sorts of good things to it," Mr. Fogarty said.

Mr. Fogarty disputed the idea the advent of Naturals is associated with a 1994 New York University study suggesting tampons made with viscose rayon-a fiber used by Tambrands and others since 1966-increases the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

"Naturals has nothing to do with toxic shock; it's for the reasons I mentioned. Women in our focus groups didn't bring up toxic shock," Mr. Fogarty said.

For now, Tambrands is just introducing Naturals in the U.S., where the only natural competition it faces is from London-based Bodywise's Natracare, sold in health food stores.

Print advertising breaks in March magazines and on network and spot TV at the start of the second quarter from BBDO Worldwide, New York.

In addition to Naturals advertising, which Tambrands will rotate with other product ads, the new brand will be supported by promotion, including thousands of trial size four-count packages.

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