SAN FRANCISCO — Consumer giant P&G is using Saturday’s $17 billion online shopping holiday to sell Chinese women a product they rarely buy: tampons. 

Just 1% of Chinese women use these alternatives to menstrual pads, as compared to about 60% in the United States, according to Tampax, which invented them in 1933.

That sales potential has prompted Procter & Gamble’s Tampax brand to launch a new, China-specific branded tampon during the Singles’ Day deals event run by e-commerce giant Alibaba on Nov. 11. 

Menstruation products represent a $5.9 billion industry in the United States and a $35.4 billion one worldwide. Sales are expected to top $40 billion globally in the next three years, according to Global Industry Analysts. 

Singles’ Day began as Valentine’s Day-like holiday in the 1990s among university students in China. Since 2009 Alibaba (BABA) has rebranded it as a shopping day, marketed as a “get something for yourself day” that’s grown into a multi-billion dollar sales event.  

The shopping event is also a big target for U.S. retailers looking to reach Chinese consumers. In 2016, 37% of total buyers purchased from international brands or merchants — with the United States the top seller of imported goods, according to Alibaba. Citigroup estimates sales could rise as high as $24 billion this year. 


The “something just for me” ethos of Single’s Day was perfect for Procter & Gamble, which chose Single’s Day last year as a test run for bringing tampons out in the open to Chinese women.