BETTER BABY BOOTY BUFFERS

Diaper manufacturers are constantly improving their products and packaging to respond to customer demand. Most of the recent introductions include easier product dispensing and improvements to enhance product performance, such as increased absorbency.For instance, Pampers wipes now have one-up technology so that the wipes pop up like tissues for easy dispensing. Pampers also has a Rash-Guard line

Diaper manufacturers are constantly improving their products and packaging to respond to customer demand. Most of the recent introductions include easier product dispensing and improvements to enhance product performance, such as increased absorbency.

For instance, Pampers wipes now have one-up technology so that the wipes pop up like tissues for easy dispensing. Pampers also has a Rash-Guard line of diapers, which includes a layer of zinc oxide for diaper rash protection.

Both Huggies and Luvs now offer a line of swim diapers, Huggies with the Little Swimmers brand, out for several swim seasons, and Luvs with the Splashware brand, which began shipping around Memorial Day. Neither swell or absorb water.

"We're always doing little things to improve the performance of our diapers, making the diapers thinner and more absorbent or providing a cloth-like backsheet for comfort like we did in the Pampers main line, for instance," said Tami Jones, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, Cincinatti, maker of both Pampers and Luvs brand diapers.

Pampers is also exploring another avenue, expanding and building upon the Pampers brand. The firm has an agreement with the New York-based Dana Undies, Inc., which will produce a line of children's layette and accessory items for sale in food, drug and mass merchandisers. The clothing line, which will be called Pampers Children's Wear, will debut later this year.

The initial clothing line will include infant layette, underwear and sleepwear in sizes newborn to 4T. The collection will offer a complete range, including bodysuits, T-shirts, hooded towels, finger-grip washcloths, mittens, booties, receiving blankets, legwear and socks. Many of the new designs will display fun and contemporary prints that illustrate the brand identity of Pampers.

According to Huggies spokeswoman Tina Barry, product improvements are a fact of life in diapers. "We recently rolled out improved Huggies Supreme diapers, with added absorbency in the super premium line and in the main line, Huggies Ultra Trim."

In addition, diaper manufacturers are currently joining in a diaper price increase, which will be accomplished by reducing the number of diapers in a package, lowering the price, and thereby increasing prices on a per-diaper basis by about 6%. "The reason for the price increase is to offset the higher raw material costs, including pulp and polymers used in producing the disposable diapers," Barry said.