Proctor & Gamble Wants to Buy Tambrands, Maker of Tampax

The enormous Proctor & Gamble Company announced on 9 April that it intends to become the overall leader in selling menstrual products for women by buying Tambrands, which makes Tampax, the best-selling tampon in the U.S.A. and in the world. American women paid $319.6 million for Tampax in the past year, about one half of the market. Outside the U.S.A., 44% of the tampons sold are Tampax.

Always pads, a product of P&G, is the leading seller among sanitary napkins in the U.S.A., with about a third of the market ($396.5 million). The next largest seller is Kotex, at $255.1 million.

Tambrands has wanted to increase its share of the world market, and the world-wide size of P&G will enable it to do this. American use of tampons is among the highest in the world; Asians and Latin Americans use them far less.

It's possible that tampon prices will eventually go up, as Tampax increases its hold on the market. Federal regulators will examine this question. If they believe that Tampax and Always compete for the same customers in the same market, the regulators may try to stop the purchase, because it would give P&G too much power over the menstrual products market, thereby cutting down competition and raising prices.

By the way, I heard an interesting discussion of the menstrual products market on PBS. It's not in the companies' interest to reduce prices to get a greater market share. The other companies would simply reduce their prices, thus making the profit margin less for everyone.

Another interesting point: dealers (supermarkets, drugstores, etc.) make just a few cents for each box of tampons and pads they sell, but maybe 10 times that for selling the menstrual cup Instead. Do you think Instead has any problem finding space on the shelves?

The last time P&G sold a tampon was in 1980, and they took a beating: it was Rely tampon, which killed and maimed scores of women by causing toxic shock.

Two Readers Nail Down Grot

Last week I printed a letter from an Australian teenage girl who thought that MUM was silly, and grot. Grot?

Well, I thought it might mean yucky, a word which is what it sounds like. I wrote the writer of the letter; no reply.

Two readers have supplied definitions that pretty much confirm each other.

Reader One writes,

"I think "grot" is short for grotesque. I remember George Harrison (yes, of the Beatles) using the term "grotty" in the movie "A Hard Days Night" and explaining to another character (a perfectly awful TV show producer and supposed purveyor of teenage style) that grotty was short/slang for grotesque. The clothing that the TV producer deemed "fab" George declared grotty.

P.S. I'd like to take the chance to compliment you on your web site. I hope someday to be able to visit your museum, but as I live on the opposite coast, I can't say when that might be. I've found the information you've collected to be fascinating. I hadn't realized how much ideas about menstruation and menstrual products have been so manipulated by advertising through the years." [Thank you! I love to hear that!]

Reader Two mostly agrees:

"the word "grot " is a form of the word grotie (spelled something like that)

it means gross, disgusting, and the like

just thought i'd tell ya cause ya asked and that is a word in my vocabulary.

p.s. i love yr web site to death and its not grot. its so great that the blessing (only to an extent can this word be used) of a grrls period can be shared w the world. it IS nothing to be ashamed of. i don't even think its bad that u r a man." [Thank you! This last sentence brings up a sore point for some people, and I'm happy for the support.]

Compare Tassaway, The Keeper and Instead Menstrual Cups

Reader One in the item right above also commented about her experiences with menstrual cups:

"I was able to find information about the Keeper, and I just received mine last week.

I have been looking for a product like this for a long time. I remember the Tassaway from the seventies. I tried it once, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it at all. The "sharp edges of the protruding rings around the cup," as you put it, made it difficult to insert. I was a teenager at the time and was easily discouraged by my one failed experiment with Tassaway.

By comparison, the natural rubber of the Keeper has no sharp edges and feels softer than I remember Tassaway being, and it is softer than the plastic ring of Instead.

I was excited when I first heard about the Instead cup on television infomercials. However, I cannot use the Instead cup because I use an IUD for birth control. Because the Instead cup sits over the cervix, IUD users are advised not to use Instead because there is a chance one could dislodge the IUD while inserting or removing Instead by catching or pulling on the tail of the IUD that trails out of the cervix. This is noted on the package (read the fine print) and at the very end of the Instead instructions. I don't recall any disclaimer about IUD users in the infomercial, however. (I could be wrong; it's been a long time since I saw the infomercial.)

I bought a box ($2.99 for six) before I figured this out. [See the item above about P&G where I discuss how much money a store makes from selling Instead compared with other products.] This contraindication for Instead use seems to not get much press; perhaps there aren't that many IUD users? One also wonders how healthy it is to scrape or drag the hard rim of the Instead cup over the cervix, even without an IUD. Although the plastic ring is flexible, the edge of the inside diameter of the ring is formed with a 90 degree square angle, not like the rounded edges of the outside of the ring. Someone who has actually used Instead may be able to tell you if that causes a problem or not. [Anyone want to comment?] (The inner edge of the Instead ring is not visible in your diagram.)

Instead seems to be stocked in all the drug and grocery stores around here (Santa Clara Valley, aka Silicon Valley, about 50 miles south of San Francisco in California). I first saw the infomercials about 6 months ago, but the product has only shown up on store shelves in the last month or so."

Many readers and I have discussed both The Keeper and Instead in previous News sections; check them out!

Readers want to read your comments about various menstrual products, and I'll be happy to print them here anonymously. Send them in!

Instead Claims It's the First - Again

The Instead (see letter right above) people claim in recent news releases that the advertising for their product has the highest recall value of any new product in menstrual hygiene in history, and that a very high rate of women actually try their menstrual cup.

According to AC Nielson figures, its dollar share in the Pacific Northwest for the tampon market in drugstores and supermarkets was 5.3 in early March, compared with 47.5 for Tampax, 15.8 for Playtex, 15.5 for o.b., and 9.5 for Kotex.

Instead is available as of 1 April in all of the western states, and the company claims it is used by 4% of all menstruating women in the Pacific Northwest.

At the bottom of each release is a disclaimer: "The statements contained in this release which are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties." Does this relieve them of the responsibility from claiming again and again that Instead is the "first real innovation in feminine protection in 60 years"?

There were several cups (including one making a similar claim) made before Instead, and I wish Instead would stop repeating that claim.

Natracare Sues Tampax: a Note

I called Susan Carskaden, the North American manager for operations of the Natracare Company in Denver, Colorado, to find out how her company's lawsuit against Tampax is going. She said Tampax did not move to dismiss the suit, but denied the charges. The suit will proceed. (Click on the title to get details.)

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