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Grow Your Business with Period Products and Adult Incontinence

The period products and adult incontinence market is worth £475m a year, which is more than big enough for it to be classified as ‘essential for my store’. Understanding all the different products and formats and knowing how a shopper decides what to buy is important if you want to stock the right range, but the level of knowledge across the wholesale and convenience channels is mixed. Never fear… read on, and I will explain all.

Matt Stanton - Head of Insight

4 Minutes

/ 5th July 2023
  • Sales & Distribution
  • Category Insight

First things first… there are three distinct sub-categories – monthly (or ‘period’ products), pantyliners, and adult incontinence. Each performs a very different function, although some shoppers sometimes mix them up.

There is a fact that surprises many people. Period products are a huge category, as most people expect, but adult incontinence is almost the same size (£230m vs. £245m).

The way people shop in each category is quite similar. Brand loyalty is high, and brand is the first factor a shopper considers when choosing what to buy. Next comes ‘form’ or ‘tier’ – essentially the type of product and whether it’s entry-level, mid-tier, or premium. Absorbency comes next (or ‘protection level’ in the case of liners), and it’s important to have a range of different absorbencies to suit as many shoppers as possible.

Adult incontinence (AI) is in long-term growth. One in three women and one in eight men aged 18-75 suffer some form of urinary incontinence, and these numbers are on the increase due to factors such as increased obesity and an ageing population. It’s usually associated with people in older age groups, but it’s more common than you might think in younger people too – just over one in ten women aged 18-29 experience issues.

The subject of incontinence has historically been taboo and unspoken – sufferers experienced embarrassment and were not comfortable admitting that they are having difficulties. This is lifting over time, supported by various campaigns aimed at normalising the problem and giving people the confidence to speak about it. As a result, more and more shoppers are choosing to buy dedicated products, rather than using other solutions such as period products and liners.

What this means is that it’s important to have the right range on shelf. The two main AI formats are pads and pants, and each comes in a range of different absorbencies. The best-sellers are shown in the list at the bottom of this page. Tena is the leading brand, followed by Always Discreet.

The period products sub-category is a little unusual, in that it’s intimately familiar to 50% of people (give or take), and much less familiar to the remaining 50%. That’s a huge over-generalisation by me, of course, but it is nonetheless a real-life dynamic that doesn’t exist in most other major categories, such as laundry or household.

Pads are the largest period product, making up roughly two thirds of the period product market. Tampons make up the remaining third. The top three brands make up 78% of the total market, with Always at No 1 (£91m) followed by Tampax (£51m) and Bodyform (£22m).

Top Selling SKUs





Adult Incontinence

Tena Heavy Pants Super - Large - 12’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Moderate Pads Normal 12’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Moderate Pads Maxi Night 6’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Heavy Pants Super – Medium - 12’s



Tena Light Liners Long 20’s



Tampax Compak Normal Tampons 18’s



Bodyform Pads Normal 14’s


Adult Incontinence

Tena Moderate Pads Extra 10’s



Always Ultra Normal Plus 13’s



Tampax Compak Super 18’s