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Procter & Gamble Co. will introduce three product improvements to its Pampers and Luvs diapers in August, and shuffle its lineup in a move likely to spark counter-introductions in the $3.6 billion category.

The rollout will be backed with a TV, radio and print campaign. A company spokesman wouldn't comment on spending plans but said this marks P&G's "biggest overall diaper initiative in 10 years."

D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, is agency for Pampers. Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handles Luvs.

P&G will upgrade its Pampers Premium line with breatheable side panels; add a new "super absorbent core" to its renamed base Pampers Baby-Dry Stretch line; and finish rolling out Luvs Stretch with stretching side panels. Also, P&G will phase out gender-specific Pampers.


Eliminating boy/girl diapers will help make room for new "jumbo" and "mega" size packs that will become the focus of P&G's lines.

P&G will hike prices on regular-size packs by 5.9% while reducing per-diaper prices on the larger packs to reflect distribution cost savings. Pampers Premium will come only in the larger size packs.

Results from a rollout of Luvs Stretch west of the Rockies already have helped that P&G brand reach its highest share level in more than three years, the spokesman said.

Luvs had an April market share of 14.1%, up 2.5 points from the end of 1995, according to Dean Witter, Discover & Co. But analyst Tristan Gerra said the gain appeared to come largely at the expense of Pampers.

"The new products themselves are not that revolutionary, but the company is really showing its renewed aggressiveness...to fight for market share it has lost" in recent years to Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies brand, Mr. Gerra said.

A Kimberly-Clark spokeswoman said that company already has breatheable sides on diapers in Japan and could apply the technology quickly in the U.S. if warranted. She also said consumer research indicates 70% of consumers favor boy/girl diapers.

Kimberly-Clark plans a product improvement rollout for its Huggies later this year, she said. Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, handles the brand.

Drypers Corp., with the category's No. 4 brand, also plans a second new product launch this year, according to Terry Tognietti, president and co-CEO, following the launch of diapers with baking soda last month.

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