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According to experts, the baby diaper market is thriving and offers many opportunities for absorbent hygiene manufacturers. We’ve gathered actionable insights from experts around the globe to help you to succeed in the years ahead.

The baby diaper business still offers opportunities for growth. According to one report, the absorbent hygiene segment is estimated at US$43.1 billion globally. By 2030, it is projected to reach US$48.6 billion.1

To make the most of this potential, you need accurate, expert information regarding consumer and market trends. You can also benefit from focused knowledge of specific regions, depending on which consumers you plan to serve.

We’ve collected insights from industry insiders on six continents. They are:
  • Raymond Chimhandamba - ‘The African Market,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 40, 41)
  • Tina Li - ‘The APAC Market,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 29, 31)
  • Augusto Quiroz - ‘The AMAS Market,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 35, 36); ‘Latin American Insights’ (Ep. 37)
  • Natalia Richer - ‘Trends in Absorbent Baby Products,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 44, 45)
  • Kelly Riegert - ‘The AMAS Market,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 35, 36);
  • Sharon Vinderine - ‘Evaluating Baby Products to Earn Parents Trust,’ Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 48, 49)
  • Rockey Ye - 'The APAC Market, Parts 1 and 2 (Eps. 29, 31)
Each guest brought their unique perspective to one or more of our ‘Attached to Hygiene’ podcasts. Here are the most topical trends they’ve shared with us.

Trend #1: Baby care market growth in Africa and India

Whilst baby diaper sales may be sagging in North America and Europe due to declining birth rates, this is not true of all regions. According to Augusto Quiroz, Bostik’s Commercial Director for the Americas region, Latin America is expected to hold steady through 2025. Conversely, industry experts like Raymond Chimhandamba predict product sales in Africa will grow. This is also the case for India. 

Several factors are behind the expansion in these markets, including awareness, affordability, and access to disposable products. For example, rising GDPs in Africa and India are providing consumers with a larger disposable income. This enables families to afford single-use baby diapers and enjoy the benefits and freedom these articles provide. As communities begin to thrive, products become more available. People also have more information about their options, whether through local shops or mobile internet.

Utilities are another factor contributing to the growth of diaper sales in Africa. ‘Urbanisation is happening at such a fast pace that municipalities are unable to keep up,’ says Raymond. As a result, the availability of water and electricity can be unreliable. ‘[These are] things you need urgently … if you’re using cloth diapers. It automatically forces consumers to go for disposable products.’

Trend #2: Sustainability and more natural ingredients

Our experts agree: Consumers want more sustainable products, especially those living in developed areas. Natalia Richer, COO of DTI (Diaper Testing International) notes, ‘We’ve seen a focus on safety … greener materials …and better eco-friendly practices.’ In her view, from brand owners to converters and suppliers, the industry wants to do better. Consumers also want greener products. However, a large group of them equate more natural materials with safety. ‘They believe if there’s less plastic in a product it’s going to be better for their baby,’ she says.

Sharon Vinderine, founder and CEO of Parent Tested Parent Approved, has observed the same. However, she sees the reasons behind it beginning to shift. ‘While it [still] leans more toward what is best for our children … there is definitely an increase in concern about the end of life of that product.’

There’s also some indication that sustainability is rising in value for today’s consumers. Based on a recent survey by PTPA, Sharon explains that parents ‘want sustainable products, and they’re willing to pay more for it.’ This is a change from PTPA’s survey in January 2020—just before the pandemic. The CEO attributes the shift to time spent in the pandemic teaching us to make healthier choices for our families and the environment.

(Also see Trend #8: Sustainability regulations)

Trend #3: Convenient shopping 

The COVID lockdown also led to a surge in making purchases via the internet—a convenience many families continue to use. (It also drove a push to expand internet access for several regions that were lagging behind.) Augusto sees rising online transactions in many Latin American nations, as does Raymond in Africa. ‘Consumers are moving more and more to internet shopping and taking deliveries at home,’ Raymond says, ‘especially in areas with high internet penetration.’

Another convenience gaining popularity is the subscription model for diaper sales. Caring for babies can create many stresses for parents, and regular delivery of diapers makes their lives easier. As Sharon puts it, ‘The subscription model is fantastic for the manufacturer because it keeps it easy and simple for [parents]. They don’t have to drag themselves out to the store, [and] make sure the right diaper size is in stock.’

Trend #4: Parents’ reliance on reviews and labels

As the diaper market becomes more crowded, consumers are turning to various tools to help them make their shopping decisions. They just can’t keep up with all the global brands, regional offerings, and start-ups they see and read about. Many parents are using online reviews and product labels to help them make informed decisions. 

For some, even reading all the reviews can seem daunting. As a result, they may look for various seals of approval before making their purchases. This is the driving motivation behind Parent Tested Parent Approved. Sharon summarises by saying, ‘It’s like having 18 of your closest friends shopping with you.’ Once consumers find a label they trust, they can relax, knowing the work of testing the product has already been done. 

However, manufacturers should be aware that not all labels are created equal. Some, like PTPA, send products to actual users who complete item-specific surveys. Others base their approval solely on published user reviews, which can be less reliable. Consumers who make purchasing decisions because of seals will quickly learn which are trustworthy, and which are not. 

Trend #5: Pant-style diapers

In recent years, pull-on diapers have been growing in popularity, though the extent varies by region. For North America, the style is generally positioned as a potty-training tool. In contrast, Natalia relates that, ‘In other parts of the world, like in India, babies start wearing pants almost [by] day 1.’ The trend is strongest in areas with growth potential, which also tend to be less mature. One reason: As brands build in these regions, they install pant-forming machines. 

The pant diaper trend is confirmed by Tina Li, Bostik’s Technical Service Manager in Asia, who explains, ‘It dominates the region in India, Indonesia, and mainland China. In China, the pants-to-tape diaper ratio is already close to 50:50.’ She attributes the positive reception to convenience and confidence. ‘It’s quite easy to change,’ she explains, noting that parents may try up to five times to tape a diaper to fit just the way they want it. With pants, Tina concludes, ‘You just pull up. It’s done.’

Augusto says he sees similar occurrences, ‘In Brazil, Unicharm arrived with pants several years ago and set the new standard. But in the rest of the region, pants have been seen as a good complement to the rest of the portfolio.’ One example he gives: ‘Some parents choose them for overnight use while using an open diaper during the day.’ Even so—as in North America—many consumers choose pant-style products primarily as their growing children reach potty training age. 

Trend #6: Thinner cores

The steady drive to reduce the thickness of diapers and cores continues apace. Natalia has observed that parents enjoy articles ‘becoming thinner while still offering high capacity and excellent performance.’ Increasing the SAP-to-fluff ratio is one avenue she sees. Another is the growing popularity of the channel core. ‘It helps to distribute liquid … more effectively, giving us better pad utilisation. It gives us better core integrity.’ Lastly, she points out the prevalence in Asia of compound and pre-compound cores, which are made with absorbent paper instead of the traditional fluff and SAP blend.

Multiple experts have noted, however, that these pre-made cores are not exclusive to Asia. Rockey Ye, Business Director for Bostik's Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, explains, ‘Manufacturers are exporting their machines to countries like India or Africa, and when they are exporting their machine[s], they are exporting their technology.’

We also learned from Natalia that diaper start-ups benefit from buying pre-made cores. She says, ‘We’re seeing the barriers to entry [into the market] being lowered.’ This is because new manufacturers no longer need to purchase the SAP and machinery for constructing a core. They can also avoid the complications of getting that process up and running. 

However, there are areas where bulkier styles remain popular. Augusto notes, ‘In Latin America, [parents] are still hesitant to adopt thinner cores.’ High-fluff articles can also be less expensive. Therefore, it has taken longer than expected for article producers to gain traction with thinner designs. ‘It’s been a challenge,’ he admits. 

Kelley Riegert, Bostik’s Strategic Commercial Account Manager for North America, confirms that thinner is the trend in the United States and Canada. However, she believes both are likely to remain popular, adding, ‘There will always be a desire from the consumer to have options’. 

Trend #7: Wetness indicators

Through her Parent Tested Parent Approved community, Sharon has learned that families love the convenience of wetness indicators. This is fairly typical of the more established markets like Europe and America. The popularity of this feature is also rising in urban areas within Africa, Asia, India, and Latin America.

However, the CEO also points out that simply having an indicator is not always enough. More experienced parents are looking for options that respond quickly, in about 5 seconds. 

Trend #8: Sustainability regulations

Across the globe, nations are enacting regulations to promote responsible manufacturing practices. These typically address both human safety and the use of materials that can be harmful to the environment. 
And they’re not just limited to Europe and North America. According to Raymond, single-use plastics are strongly regulated in Africa, especially Kenya and Tanzania, whose laws, he notes, predate those in the E.U. He observes that ‘some of the manufacturers wrap their products in jumbo packs that are made of paper instead of plastic’. 

Latin American consumers have also become concerned over the use of plastic bags. As a result, governments are enacting regulations to control the use of plastics. According to Augusto, ‘We have seen degradable plastic bags and bags made of reusable material’. These details can attract the attention of shoppers.

Other trends in baby diapers and the absorbent hygiene industry

Here are a few more of the interesting items we learned from our podcast guests over the last several months:
  • Parents (those who don’t mind the use of dyes) seem to enjoy what they consider ‘adorable prints’ on their baby diapers.
  • In Latin America, phone apps that help parents track the baby products they use are becoming popular. The apps can collect data on performance, user impressions, and how many articles they use. This allows consumers to compare products and make more informed decisions.
  • Some countries in Latin America have special sale days for types of products, such as ‘Diaper Days’. 
  • In areas with lower overall incomes, manufacturers are selling products in smaller, more affordable pack sizes. 
  • In some regions, brands (especially newer ones) may align with specific retailers who sell their products.  
  • Because of the global issues with reliable shipping, many major brands are building regional facilities in places like Africa, India, and Latin America.
Partner with Bostik for future success
Wherever you are in the world, we’re here to help. We’re absorbent hygiene adhesive experts. Plus, as an international supplier, Bostik has a global network of production locations, laboratories, and regional support centres. You can rely on consistent quality and a secure supply. As a Bostik customer, you’ll also benefit from our value beyond the adhesive, including vast information, resources, and expertise.


1 Baby Disposable Diapers: Global Strategic Business Report, Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

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