ScreenClip2At first glance, the sleek packaging of these pantie liners for men looks like a mocked-up image that could have been made as a joke. It looks almost identical to the packaging of some (women’s) liners, except that the branding is silver and dark navy. The product is real and can be purchased in Japan. And unlike bras and panties for men, the market it’s targeting isn’t niche.

This is a serious answer to a serious problem Japan faces – its aging population. The elderly now make up a quarter of the Japanese population. Sales of adult diapers are expected to exceed those for babies by 2020, and at Unicharm, the manufacturer of one of these new brands of men’s liners, that tipping point came back in 2011. As Japanese people continue to live longer, the market for incontinence products keeps growing.

While sales of adult diapers have been bolstered by advertising aimed at the elderly, these slimmer pant liners for light urinary incontinence are aimed at the over-50s market. Cosmetics and household products company Kao first started to develop pads aimed at the male market ten years ago, but the product was never finalised. Unlike female consumers, accustomed to buying and using sanitary products, men were reluctant and embarrassed. Kao’s pads for men were shelved.

When some men reported in a recent survey that they “avoided going out because of the fear of leakage”, however, the company recommenced development on men’s pads. The result was Kao’s Smart Guard, which hit stores this April. Smart Guard pads are designed to be worn all day without needing changing. The packaging is slim and modelled after pocket packs of wet-wipes, so as to be discreet. Oh yes, and it’s monochrome.

▼ The businessman on the packet is monochrome, too. He also has no face.ScreenClip

Unicharm, Japan’s biggest manufacturer of adult diapers, launched a similar product called Men’s Guard Slim back in 2007, but it also flopped. However, Unicharm says they were contacted by men telling them “I use my wife’s pads because there’s no alternative”, which inspired them to look again at products for men. The result was a men’s version, also launched this April, of their Raifurii Sawayaka brand.

▼ Black, evidently, is the new black.


And Crechia, which sells incontinence pads marketed at women under its Poise brand, just recently launched Poise for Men, a 3mm super-thin liner designed to be inconspicuous.

▼ “So thin you’ll forget you’re wearing it” (although we hope you won’t forget completely).ScreenClip2

With three major manufacturers launching new incontinence pads for men this year, these companies clearly believe the market is ready for men’s liners. Whether these products’ slick packaging will succeed in overcoming consumer reluctance, however, will remain to be seen.

Source: Yahoo JP
Featured image: Crechia, via Yahoo JP   Other images: Kao, Unicharm, via Yahoo JP