Thursday, May 24, 2007

Maxi-pad? Or Maxi-money?

People have been hankering for me to fill my blog up with "something, for god's sake", so here I go. Recently, I was in a grocery store, and I noticed ahead of me a woman buying tampons. (For heaven's sake, grow up, I can hear you sniggering in the back.) She had bought 2 packs of 12 pads, as far as I could see. Now, I couldn't see exactly how much she paid for them, but for discussion's sake, let us assume she is the typical lady, and that her purchases would have lasted her a month.

Before continuing with this article, let me state that I am neither an expert on the subject, nor do I claim to be. I simply felt this would make for a rather interesting calculation of sorts. Now then, onwards.

I scouted around the net, for a rough idea of how much tampons cost (not having a clue, myself). So, we have the cost of a 12ply. pack of tampons going from US$2.99 (generic) , up to US$11.99 depending on brand, location and such.

Taking the lady in the check-out line as a typical example, and before you can say it, I know it's not fixed for everyone and it varies from person to person, so yes, just this lady for the sake of discussion.

So, she's bought 2, 12ply. packs for 1 month

2 packs x 12 months = 24 packs

Twenty-four packs, at let's say, an average of US$4.99 (most common price for 12ply.)

24 packs x $4.99 = $119.76 ≈ $120.00/year ( ≈ RM 410 )

Again, acknowledging the variation from person to person, let's assume the average woman requires tampons from age twelve, to say, fifty-two (average age at which menopause sets in, according to Wikipedia).

$120.00 x (52 - 12) = $4800.00 ( ≈ RM 16,000)

Now, that may not seem very much for a period of 40 years, but according to

"While 70 percent of American women use tampons, only 100 million of the world's 1.7 billion menstruating women do. In Asia and Latin America, two of the most populous parts of the world, only 3 percent of all women use tampons."

This was in 1999, and I'm sure percentages have increased over the years since then. So, assuming at least 10% of all menstruating women use tampons, that translates to :

( 10% x 1 700 000 000 ) x US$120.00 = US$ 20,400,000,000 ( 20.4 billion dollars)

And that's just per year.

Multiply that by forty, and you have the net revenue generated by tampon companies in a single generation, not counting the continually growing customer base as more and more girls mature each year.

So, the next time you see this on a shelf :

Take a minute to ponder the economic marvel that is the tampon.

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