Butterfly Health Inc., the makers of Butterfly Body Liners, was recently honored with the 2014 Visionary Award recognizing innovation in nonwovens-based consumer products. Calling the liner, which meets the needs of sufferers of accidental bowel leakage (ABL), a category creating innovation, INDA president Dave Rousse presented the award to the company at the Vision conference in Dallas, TX in January.
Nonwovens Industry recently sat down with Butterfly founder Kelly Lewis Brezoczky, former Procter & Gamble executive and ABL advocate, to discuss the future of the adult incontinence market. Butterfly liners are designed to protect sufferers of ABL, a condition that affects about 20% of women over the age of 40. The liners are currently available nationwide at Target stores and will soon be available in Wal-Marts in nationally as well.
NWI: What are the key trends pushing the causing interest in products for ABL sufferers?
KLB: I think we will continue to see this category evolve. The literature shows that 60% of accidental bowel leakage (ABL) onset is before the age of 60—and it affects both genders nearly equally, it’s not just women. The growth trends in the lighter incontinence trends are not surprising. I think there we will continue to be innovation and growth in this segment, even beyond the demographic trends.
NWI: What led to the development of the Butterfly Body Liners?
KLB: The literature is very clear that accidental bowel leakage (ABL) affects tens of millions of women and men over 40. The challenge is that this condition has been misunderstood. For 90% of sufferers, ABL is light to moderate and yet the adult incontinence market has developed around disposable undergarments that only serve the 10% of sufferers with more severe bowel control issues. There are no products for the 90% who have lighter leakage.
You can’t help but want to make a difference when you see how people’s lives are impacted by ABL. Quite simply, we saw a white space and high unmet need and we challenged ourselves to come up with a personal hygiene solution that broke the barriers in an elegant way. It helped that our founding team included two former P&G colleagues—Elizabeth and Karl Ronn—and my husband, Thomas. The Ronns and I had worked together on Always at P&G. Karl was also involved in the development of Swiffer and Febreze, and my husband is a Silicon Valley serial inventor. At one point, Thomas was working on some of our first prototypes and I asked him if he could make one that was more like a butterfly. At first, he thought I was joking. But when he came back with a cookie tray of lasar cut elaborate Butterflys, I took one look and immediately knew that was it. It was a light bulb moment. I still have those Butterflys.
NWI: What is next for the company?
KLB: We are thrilled to have Butterfly in national distribution at Target and other retailers coming in the spring. We also have a male product in development. ABL affects women and men similarly and we are have pulled our male initiative forward because men are reaching out to us asking for it. It has been very rewarding to respond so quickly to the men who have reached out to us. That’s one of the benefits of being a small company and working with outstanding partners.
Longer term, we believe there are more novel solutions beyond Butterfly. The unmet needs are there.
NWI: How would you describe the state of the AI market?
KLB: I think the market is evolving and we are on the cusp of the next wave of innovation. To date, I think the market has developed around the lower hanging fruit. Most of the manufacturers have gotten into this business with their existing baby diaper technology. I understand that. I was working at P&G when adult diapers first launched and were shelved next to the baby diapers. Fast forward to today. Butterfly is leading the way for a new way of imaging how these kind of products can be integrated into someone’s life in a way that starts conversations, not avoids them. This is a strategically important evolution for this category.