Feminine Hygiene Product Perceptions
Health concerns, sustainable use, and product transparency are three pain points faced by customers when shopping for natural feminine hygiene products. Three challenges faced by manufacturers are product innovations, product availability, and product messaging that resonates. Further information for each of these insights is provided below.
Consumer Pain Points
- It is estimated that women in North America use 12 billion menstrual pads and tampons annually.
- The market for organic feminine care was valued at $1.067 billion in 2018. With a projected CAGR of 6.1% during the period 2019–2025, the market is estimated to be valued at $1.585 billion by close of 2025. Drivers of market growth are word of mouth, media spend, and product reviews.
- Claims of use of organic cotton increased from 4.3% in 2016 to 9.4% in 2018. Sanitary pads represent the majority share of the market with 63%, or 282.1 million units in 2019.
- A consumer survey conducted in 2019 revealed that 59% of menstruating women have considered or have used natural or organic feminine hygiene products. The survey showed that 17% of women have switched to non-disposable products, 23% are considering making the switch, and 19% have decided not to switch.
- Women between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to have made the switch, while those between 18 and 24 are most likely to consider the switch, and women between the ages of 35 and 44 have decided against the switch.
1. Health Concerns
- Women have expressed concerns regarding their health and usage of feminine hygiene products regarding the amount of fragrances and perfumes, adhesive chemicals, and use of chlorine or bleach.
- The FDA Office of Women’s Health reported that dioxin was found in tampons. While the amount found was less than 0.2% of the recommended minimum intake, another study conducted in 2018 revealed that the rate of bacterial growth of the kind that causes Toxic Shock Syndrome remained the same regardless of the material used.
- Deeannah Seymour, CEO and founder of pH-D Feminine Health noted the concerns of women regarding the long term impact on their bodies from using feminine products.
- Corman, the manufacturer of Organyc femcare products, reports that 67% of women describe themselves as having “skin sensitivity issues.” Paola Stevan, marketing manager, noted that the “majority” of women indicated an interest in femcare products made from 100% cotton.
2. Sustainable Use
- A single woman can generate between 130 to 200 kilograms of waste annually, which, when aggregated over a lifetime of mensuration can amount to close to 10,000 kilograms.
- Women who have indicated that they have made the switch to non-disposable products, and those considering the switch stated that their concerns regarding sustainably produced feminine products center around reducing waste, preservation of the natural resources, and prevention of chemical drainage.
- To promote sustainability, brands have developed reusable tampon applicators, period proof underwear, and menstrual discs.
3. Product Transparency
- Manufacturers are under no obligation from the FDA to disclose the ingredients in a tampon, as it is considered a medical device. To keep production costs low, larger manufacturers have opted to use dyes, bleaches, and pesticides in their products.
- In 2018, the French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) recommended a limit on the use of mutagenic, reprotoxic, and carcinogenic substances in feminine hygiene products.
- The movement has also gained traction in the state of New York. The state has passed legislation on transparency in feminine hygiene product labels. Manufacturers now have 18 months to package products with labeling disclosing product ingredients.
- Lola is one of the companies that identified the opportunity, and is now producing products that are devoid of synthetic fibers, toxins, and fragrances.
- Traditional brands have sought to revamp existing products, and to build on economies of scale, to supply the organic or natural hygiene market.
- Procter and Gamble has launched natural pads and tampons, and Johnson & Johnson is now marketing a 100% organic tampon.
- However, driven by Generation Z and Millennial women who are demanding products produced in a sustainable manner, organic or natural feminine hygiene products now encompass, menstrual cups and reusable underwear.
- Kimberly-Clark invested in period proof underwear, while Procter & Gamble has launched a menstrual cup, and bought This is L, a natural feminine product line that offers wipes, pads, liners, and tampons.
- Innovative materials used are super absorbent fibers, and biodegradable and compostable fibers.
2. Product Messaging
- According to Alex Friedman, co-founder of Lola, because feminine care manufacturers have traditionally been led by men, marketing material and product innovations have not been able to strike the right tone to relate to women.
- At Lola, the company focuses on having a conversation around menstruation that is direct, open, and honest. Social media is an important tool the company uses in customer engagement.
- At Callaly, branding was the target of the communication innovations. Kate Huang, head of marketing at Callaly, notes that honesty and empathy both played a role in brand messaging.
- The direct to consumer model has helped to address distribution woes for the startups trying to penetrate the market.
- Launched in 2015, Lola utilizes the subscription model to get its product to customers. Founder Jordana Kier opted for this distribution mechanism because it matched the monthly cycle of women.
- Brands have also relied on product bundling to boost their profile. OneSquin manufacturer of organic tampons, has bundled its product with skincare brands, explicitly recognizing the link between menstruation and changes to the skin.
- Additional product bundles have brought together femcare products and condoms, essential oils, and vitamins as part of a cramp care package, and other sexual health products such as lubricants and cleansing wipes.