Kimberly-Clark partners CSIRO, small business for fight back nappy NPD

Kimberly-Clark Australia will launch a new Huggies nappy product created in a collaborative innovation effort to ward off erosion of market share at the hands of private label brands.

The new product, created in partnership with government research body CSIRO and family-owned textiles company Textor Technologies, introduces a new high-absorbency fabric to the category and represents a move towards open innovation for the multi-national FMCG brand.

Created to provide the extra absorbency required for newborns, Kimberly-Clark hopes the innovation will fortify its market leading position in the $500 million nappy category, which was shaken up when Aldi’s Mamia product entered the market several years ago. Aldi’s product’s lower price point and comparable performance saw many mothers switch away from branded manufacturers.

The ‘3D UltraAbsorb’ layer in the new Huggies Newborn and Infant Nappie is the most revolutionary innovation developed for Huggies so far, Kimberly-Clark general manager of baby and child care, Alison Holland, says.

“This is an innovation so unique that we truly believe it will change the game of what a nappy can deliver. We’ve experienced fantastic results from mums who tested the new nappy, which tells us just how much this innovation will mean to them and their babies,” Holland says.

Funding from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) was invested to help develop the material as part of the government body’s ongoing strategy of open innovation and working hand in hand with industry in Australia.

The organisation’s Research in Business (RIB) program is designed to help Australian companies compete locally and abroad through innovation, CSIRO group executive, manufacturing, materials and minerals, Dr Calum Drummond, explains. “Our ongoing partnership with Textor and Kimberly-Clark is an example of the benefits long-term collaboration and engagement in R&D can bring.”

“The project is a perfect example of how the innovation process works by linking researchers, such as CSIRO through the RIB program to small to medium enterprise to develop the concept, then linking in multi-national enterprises so the concept can be taken to market via the multinationals’ supply chains,” director of Textor Technologies Phillip Butler adds.

Insights around the challenges managing the bowel movements of newborn babies sparked the idea for the new product, which seven in 10 test mums said performed better than the old material. It targets first-time mothers – over 40% of the market.

NSW Premier, the Honourable Barry O’Farrell, officially launched the $28 million production line at Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies nappy plant in South West Sydney last month. Due to hit stores in the coming weeks the product will launch with an integrated marketing campaign including TV, print, online, sampling and in store activity encouraging parents to see and feel the difference.

Huggies commanded 68% of the nappy market in January, excluding sales from Aldi, according to Aztec National data.