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Kimberly-clark corp. may not have been first into the disposable diaper business. But since the company launched its Huggies brand 20 years ago, it has been first with new segments, from Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants in 1989 to the latest-Huggies Little Swimmers Swim Pants, launched nationally in February.

Those new products have propelled K-C past its arch-rival Procter & Gamble Co. into a solid first place in the $3.7 billion U.S. diaper and training pants category.

Amid the usual dust-ups of competing product improvements in the past year, K-C extended its lead in the category to 41.1%, with sales up 2.9%, to $1.5 billion, for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 22, according to Information Resources Inc.

K-C also has successfully extended the Huggies brand into baby wipes since 1992, taking 37% and leadership of the $556 million baby wipes category, according to IRI.

Dudley Lehman, 47, president, North American child care sector, leads the team marketing effort behind what he calls "the Huggies megabrand."

He joined the company in 1976 after earning an MBA. at Wake Forest and has been working with the Huggies brand in some capacity for much of his life.

"One of the big reasons for success is a continuous commitment to product innovation," Mr. Lehman says, adding that market research to uncover consumer needs has been key to that innovation.

"Really consistent advertising" from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, also helps.

Mr. Lehman says O&M has "done an outstanding job of using the child in the advertising and celebrating the joy of discovery."

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