Urine incontinence is a common symptom that affects one in four women over the age of 40, and 1 in 5 men over under the age of 50. Prevalence of this problem can increase with age, as up to 75% of women above age 65 report urine leakage. The first ever diaper pant differentiated for male and female users, UltraThinz is a product for younger sufferers of incontinence as Disha Chakraborty finds out.
Did you know that designing dry pants is a highly complex process that requires the balancing of more than 13 raw materials? India's leading adult diaper brand, Friends had the added challenge of compressing its materials to make sure they could manufacture the slimmest possible dry pant. This was possible through the efforts of its internal team, thanks to the new machines the group had commissioned, and the support of raw material suppliers. And that’s how, Friends, the flagship brand of Indian diapering giant Nobel Hygiene launched the country's first slim disposable absorbent underpant - Friends UltraThinz.
This new product is designed specifically for younger consumers who suffer from light incontinence due to conditions such as obesity, prostate issues, and postpartum incontinence. It is also effective for heavy blood flow post-pregnancy, menopause, and endometriosis.
Kamal Kumar Johari, MD and founder, Nobel Hygiene states, “We have been making diapers for more than 20 years. In the last decade we have observed that the age of incidence of issues such as diabetes and prostate cancer is reducing. Diapers can no longer be bulky products used by immobile seniors. A fresher, younger product is needed. As the market leader in the adult diaper category in India, it is our duty to lead the way.” That’s how UltraThinz was created. An absorbent, disposable replacement to the conventional underwear.
Kartik Johari: After several trials and after testing with our panel of consumers we were able to bring UltraThinz to the Indian market
Friends UltraThinz comes in two separate variants. A peach-coloured dry pant for women and a grey-coloured dry pant for men. This is the first Indian brand to acknowledge that men and women's bodies and the types of incontinence they face are different, and require differentiated solutions.
Meanwhile Kartik Johari, vice president, marketing & commerce, Nobel Hygiene (the makers of Friends Adult Diapers) tells us, “The pack’s bold packaging in black and fluorescents helps rebrand the dry pant itself, and make it more relatable for 30+ users.” The pack has been designed entirely by the internal design team at Friends.
Kartik Johari adds, “The creative team on this project was Shayonnita Mallik, the head of content; and Kinjesh Bheda, lead designer. After 16 iterations, sleepless nights and debates, we decided to break the code and go with the striking neon colours on an all-black packaging.”
Why launch a thin diaper?
The R&D team at Friends observed that the age of incidence of incontinence is decreasing, with younger customers facing milder forms of incontinence. These customers shy away from using bulky diapers that may show up under their clothing. Therefore, Friends developed a sleeker, more-functional product that is absorbent, disposable, and provides an invisible bulge-free fit under even the tightest clothing.
Apart from the sleeker design, it retains the high-quality absorption mechanism, comfortable cottony fit, and anti-bacterial and odour-lock properties that its parent brand is known for.
The black and lavender, and black and neon packs were launched by Nobel Hygiene's 1000-strong sales team pan-India and are available in chemists, supermarkets, and ladies' specialty stores.
A part of the proceeds from each pack of UltraThinz bought will be donated to Agewell Foundation, the brand’s CSR partner
The sustainability quotient
When asked about the disposability factor of adult diapers, Kartik Johari says, “All Friends Diapers are easily disposable. Once the diaper is full, just tear the sides, roll them up, wrap them in an old newspaper and dispose. It’s that simple.”
When asked if the diapers are eco-friendly, biodegradable, environment-friendly or any of those other terms, he replies, the answer is no. He pointed out, “Sometime in the future we would love to do that but right now, making them reusable while giving them the kind of absorbency we do is not quite possible. Besides, if you look, you’ll find that the technology around a product being compostable is a lot of pseudo-science with no actual credibility.”
He believes, “The need of the hour is to improve market penetration and get fence sitters and those still following the stigma to start using the product instead of suffering in silence.” He signs off, “Reusable diapers are a huge inconvenience issue – the burden of washing them falls on already overburdened women of families, not to mention the water cost.”
Nobel Hygiene - at a glance
Nobel Hygiene was established in 2000 and is one of the leading Indian manufacturers of disposable hygiene products. Today, it is one of the leading brands in the adult diaper category and the only Indian manufacturer with a product offering across adult (Friends), baby (Teddyy and Snuggy) and feminine disposable hygiene products (RIO Pads).
Research and Development is the mantra at Friends in terms of understanding what a customer needs.
The group has spent more than two decades focusing on trying to better their diapers. The method is simple: Speaking to consumers regularly and collecting data from online sites. The real challenge has been: how to make diaper pants more absorbent while making them slimmer, and yet keep costs down.
With UltraThinz, the idea was to create a ‘younger’ diaper for a younger consumer. This is because the Friends team noted that the age of incidence of incontinence is reducing. People in the age group of 30-45 are dealing with urine leakage due to diabetes, or obesity—in much larger numbers than a decade ago.
Therefore the need of the hour thus is a younger, sleeker product that is more accessible for such an audience, and can be worn just like an underpant, without any fear of being visible under their clothes. Further, the Friends team observed differences in what male and female users require—that’s why they manufactured a non-unisex diaper pant, customised for gendered needs.
The first Indian company to launch adult diapers and sanitary pads designed for heavy period flow, Nobel Hygiene’s products are available on both online and offline, including at 2,00,000 retail outlets. Currently, Nobel Hygiene produces over 350 SKUs for its brands and under contract for major MNCs.