Adult diaper sales in China could exceed infant diaper sales by 2025, research suggests

Some diaper manufacturers are reportedly preparing for an adult diaper sales boom in China. VCG/VCG via Getty Images
  • Sales of adult diapers in China could exceed infant diapers by 2025, according to an FT report.
  • China’s population is rapidly aging as the country’s birth rate declines. 
  • The demographic shift means some manufacturers are refocusing marketing on adult diapers, the FT reported.

The diaper market in China appears headed towards an inflection point.

By 2025, sales of adult diapers could exceed those of infant diapers because of the country’s rapidly aging population and declining birth rate, according to a report from the Financial Times that cited data from analysts, investors, and manufacturers.

It’s estimated that by 2050, 330 million Chinese will be over the age of 65. Meanwhile, the country’s birth rate is falling – it hit its lowest level last year since 1952.

The demographic shift means some diaper manufacturers are already refocusing their marketing to promote their products to older customers.

Unicharm, one of the top sellers of diapers in China, appears to be one of them. Citing sources close to the company, the FT reported that Unicharm is now devoting more of its marketing dollars to adult diapers than infant diapers. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on this.

The owner of a diaper factory in Hubei, China, told the FT that it had pivoted to making diapers for adults rather than infants, and it’s already seeing “strong demand.”

The adult diaper market in China is expected to be worth $US30 ($AU42) billion by 2040, according to data from analysts CLSA.

Marketing and selling adult diapers has been a historically tricky business because of the stigma around the products.

Reuters reported in 2019 that two diaper manufacturers, Essity and Kimberly-Clark, estimated that only half of the more than 400 million adults that are likely to be affected by weak bladders are buying the correct products, because they are embarrassed.

“People keep the fact that they have incontinence secret from their loved ones, from their husbands, brothers, and sisters – this is a deep secret for many consumers and yet it’s just a fact of life, it’s a physiological reality,” a spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark told Reuters at the time.