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Let's Talk Feminine Hygiene


Hygiene, and more specifically bathroom habits, can sometimes be a tricky subject to talk about.


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Let's Talk Feminine Hygiene

Being a British national, I find that part of the problem is that the British have a historically well-known habit of avoiding talk on any subject that they think is ‘taboo’. Waste is one of these subjects. Whether it is feminine hygiene waste, ‘number-two’ waste or urinary waste, no-one wants to discuss it. 

However, it is time we started to talk, because feminine hygiene is now a big business in the Middle East and no longer something we can ignore. Traditionally there has been a much larger importance placed on feminine hygiene and various products including waste disposal units, sanitary towels, sanitary bag dispensers and waste disposal liners in the UK and Europe than in the Middle East, although this is changing.

A few figures

According to a new report published by Allied Market Research and entitled ‘World Feminine Hygiene Products Market-Opportunities and Forecasts, 2015-2022’, the global feminine hygiene products market is expected to garner revenue of $42.7 billion, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% during 2016-2022. And, although Asia-Pacific and Europe are the highest revenue generating market for feminine hygiene products, LAMEA (Latin America, Middle East and Africa) is the fastest growing market.

In 2015, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for the largest market share of around 48.9 per cent, owing to increasing awareness towards personal hygiene and higher adoption of sanitary pads in markets such as China, Japan and others. However, LAMEA is anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR of 7.5 per cent during the forecast period owing to the increasing number of working women and the rising demand of tampons and panty liners. An increasing number of international hygiene manufacturers and cleaning companies are looking to the MENA region as a burgeoning growth market - and locally-based SMEs will often look to the region's tried and tested export routes as a traditional way of taking their business to the next level.

Sanitary quotient

According to Allied Market Research’s report, sanitary pads are the most commonly used sanitary protection product across all regions of the world and are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and absorption levels. It is important they are not flushed down the toilet as they can cause drain blockages and issues with our sewage systems. Supermarkets, hypermarkets and drug stores & pharmacies are major sales channels in developed markets such as North America and Europe. In developing countries such as India, feminine hygiene products are majorly distributed in rural areas through convenience stores.

Across the globe, feminine hygiene waste has to be treated differently to male washroom waste due to its association with blood-borne pathogens. This is why it is much more widely budgeted for. In Europe, various legislations place a duty of care obligation on every business operator to ensure feminine waste is managed properly up to the point of disposal. There is a duty for all businesses of all sizes and types of industry, to follow these legislations for the health, safety and benefit of their own employees, guests and customers. Servicing hygiene bins on a regular basis and ensuring staff are safe at the point of disposal is crucial. These laws act as one way of ensuring that a suitable and hygienic method of sanitary waste disposal is available at all times for every female. In the UK and in more and more countries across Europe and Asia, the common practice for sanitary waste disposal provision is through a Sanitary Waste Disposal System and an antimicrobial liner or sanitizing agent.

However, it remains an often awkward topic to discuss, especially between younger groups and in certain instances around the world where not all facilities cater for hygienic sanitary waste disposal methods.

Feminine hygiene

Due to increasing awareness of personal feminine hygiene, the Middle Eastern female visitor wants to dispose of her sanitary waste safely and subtly and so it is important for premises to provide this for their visitors, as it can enhance a building or company’s reputation. The aim is to provide facilities that promote maximum hygiene, minimal odour, maximum discretion and minimum exposure.

The increase in the Middle East of working women has had a positive impact on feminine hygiene facilities across the region. With more women needing to use facilities outside of their home, and often on a daily basis, Facilities Management companies have had to step up their efforts to provide suitable services. There is still a long way to go though – despite the work that has been done in combating gender discrimination in the MENA, women still face widespread challenges in entering the workforce. When it comes to labour force penetration of women, the World Bank predicts that at the current rate, it would take 150 years for MENA countries to reach the current world average for women in work.

Whilst trying to stay away from sweeping generalisations, we can comfortably say that across the globe, women spend more time in washrooms than men, and clearly have differing washroom requirements too. The sanitary disposal market is becoming much more than simply a ‘legislative box-ticker’ and is constantly striving to improve the disposal experience. Scented sanitary bin liners are one way that facilities can make their washrooms more appealing to both visitors and staff. Toilet seat sanitizers aren’t as prevalent in male washrooms but can be a thoroughly positive accessory for women as they can sanitize toilet seats before they sit. Automatic soap dispensers appeal to both genders, but a chic design can show that your washroom is considered and therefore clean (we all love good reviews online remember).

Finally, fragrance is becoming increasingly important in female washrooms. From our experience, the Middle East prefers strong, rich, musky fragrances like Oudh to citrus or flowery notes. Customers linger longer and are generally happier when exposed to certain scents. Smell challenges our senses and is deeply connected to our emotional state. It has far greater influence on our behaviours than we realize – after all, “Seventy-five percent of the emotions we generate on a daily basis are affected by smell.” (Martin Lindstrom, Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound).

About the Author: Paul Wonnacott is the Managing Director & President of Vectair Systems.