Tambrands’ soft touch

Canada's leading tampon marketer, Tambrands Canada, has set its sights on rival Playtex' core consumer franchise with the introduction of a new disposable tampon called Tampax Satin Touch.Playtex' best-selling tampon, known simply as Playtex, features a plastic applicator that receives high...

Canada’s leading tampon marketer, Tambrands Canada, has set its sights on rival Playtex’ core consumer franchise with the introduction of a new disposable tampon called Tampax Satin Touch.

Playtex’ best-selling tampon, known simply as Playtex, features a plastic applicator that receives high marks among consumers for comfort.

But the product is limited in its market appeal because it is not bio-degradable.

Satin Touch, which began shipping in April, incorporates a cardboard applicator that not only is bio-degradable but also is layered with a cellulose-based material that provides the comfort characteristics of a plastic applicator.

Tampons that make use of plastic applicators have traditionally been rated higher for comfort during insertion than those using cardboard applicators.

Barbara Martin-Santini, senior marketing manager with Toronto-based Tambrands, says Satin Touch, because of its combination of comfort and bio-degradability, is an inherently superior product to Playtex.

‘This is the first time there has been a flushable, bio-degradable applicator that has been able to offer the same comfort benefits as that of plastic applicators,’ says Martin-Santini.

‘We believe it will take a chunk out of their market share,’ says adds.

For its part, Playtex dismisses Satin Touch as the restaging of Taxpax Comfort Shaped Flushable, a cardboard-applicator product launched last year by Tambrands.

Indeed, Tambrands is in the process of replacing Comfort Shaped Flushable on store shelves with the new Satin Touch.

But Martin-Santini argues that the applicator used in Satin Touch represents such an improvement in comfort over its predecessor that it is an entirely new product able to compete head-on in comfort terms with Playtex.

Consequently, says Martin-Santini, Tambrands is positioning Satin Touch as a direct competitor to Playtex, a positioning she says will become clear in the Fall when a new Satin Touch tv campaign hits the airwaves.

Satin Touch’s Canadian launch is the beginning of worldwide rollout of the product, although Tambrands is remaining mum as to where and when it will appear next.

The war of words over Satin Touch is a reflection of the high level of competitiveness between the two firms, which together dominate the tampon category.

According to A. C. Nielsen, Canadians spent $279 million in food stores, drugstores and mass merchandisers on feminine hygiene products during the year ending in February.

In volume measurement, tampons represent a quarter of the total sales, while pads and panti shields represent the balance.

Tambrands and Playtex both compete exclusively in the tampon market, with the former accounting for about 60% of sales and the later about 26%.

Johnson & Johnson’s o.b., a tampon designed without an applicator of any kind, is the third-leading brand with a share of about 10%.

In addition to Satin Touch, Tambrands product line-up consists of Tampax Flushable, a cardboard applicator brand with 49% of the total tampon market, and Tampax Compak, a plastic applicator brand with 7% of the market.

Tambrands’ annual ad budget runs between $4 million $5 million. Two weeks ago, the company shifted its Canadian account from Leo Burnett to McKim Baker Lovick/BBDO, which handles the account in the U.S.