Feminine Hygiene Market Seeking New Customers

By Karen McIntyre, Editor | November 7, 2016

From young girls to developing regions, feminine hygiene makers are looking at new markets for growth.

Across the globe feminine hygiene manufacturers continue to rely on attracting new consumers for growth. In developed markets like the U.S. and Western Europe, where penetration levels are nearly 100%, new customers come in the form of young girls who are entering the category, while in developing regions increased penetration among all demographics continues to be the focus. In both cases, brands are focusing on outreach efforts, sampling and creating marketing campaigns to attract these consumers.

According to a new report published by Allied Market Research, the global feminine hygiene products market is expected to reach $42.7 billion, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% during 2016-2022. In 2015, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for the largest market share of around 48.9%, owing to increasing awareness towards personal hygiene and higher adoption of sanitary pads in markets such as China, Japan and others. Europe was the second largest market in 2015, closely followed by North America, owing to higher penetration of high-end products such as tampons, panty liners and internal cleansers. LAMEA is anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period owing to the increasing number of working women and the rising demand of tampons and panty liners.

Among the mentioned feminine hygiene products, sanitary pads dominate the market, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the overall market revenue throughout the analysis period. In terms of growth, internal cleansers would be the fastest growing product category, followed by tampons and panty liners, owing to increasing demand of high-end feminine hygiene products across the globe.

Like A Girl
While going after the younger “tween” consumer has always been a strong focus of feminine hygiene producers, during the past couple of years manufacturers have shifted gears and their strategies in attracting this demographic. Kimberly-Clark’s 2010 launch of U By Kotex marked the beginning of this shift. This innovative feminine care line featuring bold new packaging and product design changed the ways girls looked at feminine hygiene products.

In the years since this launch the feminine hygiene category has been repopulated with products and marketing strategies specifically targeting young girls. From new products like U by Kotex Security Ultra Thin pads to marketing campaigns like Procter & Gamble’s #LikeAGirl movement to keep girls active and confident, these efforts have helped lift the stigma surrounding menstruations, making it something to be celebrated, not shunned.

“Our consumers are engaging on digital channels and consuming digital content more than ever before, so we are providing them with compelling information on these platforms. We’re also using technology to help drive meaningful brand experiences that engage our consumers on their own terms and in real time,” says U by Kotex brand manager Laura Kren. “To help reach, inspire and empower our key target – millennials – with positive messages around periods and feminine care, U by Kotex became one of the first – if not the first – consumer packaged goods brand to use social media to help drive education and advocacy in the feminine care industry.”

“Recent U by Kotex innovations include a major absorbency improvement to U by Kotex Ultra Thin pads with the introduction of 3D Capture Core, a one-of-a-kind center that locks away wetness to help stop leaks,” says Kren. The company has also recently launched Xpress DRI, a cover with crazy-fast absorption, for U by Kotex Cleanwear pads, as well as drawer packs to help women easily store and organize their products at home, and thong panty liners to provide options that work with popular underwear styles.

K-C’s strategy in U By Kotex is pushing category boundaries by giving young women access to new and one-of-a-kind design and protection improvements to help ensure a better feminine care experience overall. “More specifically, we know women don’t want to be interrupted by their periods, so we’ve designed products that can be changed quickly, disposed of hygienically, and are comfortable to wear. Women also want to wear whatever they want regardless of whether they have their period or not, so we’ve designed pads to meet her needs, no matter what kind of underwear she’s wearing, and created thin products for better discretion,” Kren adds.

K-C competitor Procter & Gamble also continues to expand its teen-centric line Always Radiant, which is a crossover brand featuring products from its Always and Tampax products. Most recently, P&G launched Tampax Pocket Pearl, a pocket-sized version of Tampax Pearl for on-the-go girls who want stylish protection that fits right in the palms of their hands.

“One in every two girls believes their period holds them back from certain activities. We know that any day can turn into an adventure for girls, and we want to make sure nothing stands in their way, especially their periods,” says Amanda Hill, Tampax brand director. “With help from a panel of teen girls, we designed Tampax Pocket Pearl to offer stylish, pocket-sized discretion with the same superior protection and comfort they know and trust from the full-size Tampax Pearl. Girls can now have power over their periods and feel ready for adventures that come their way any day of the month.”

Tampax Pocket Pearl offers the same protection as the full-size Tampax Pearl tampon, but has a compact applicator, so worrying about leaks will be a thing of the past. It’s the only compact tampon with the unique Built-In Backup Braid. This extra layer of protection helps capture leaks that would normally bypass other tampons, keeping fluid locked into the core. New Tampax Pocket Pearl also features FormFit technology to better eliminate the gaps that cause leaks and give girls an extra layer of protection so they can stay clean, dry, confident and ready for any adventure.

In addition to product development, the Always brand has focused on empowering girls through its #LikeAGirl campaign. Recognizing that more than half of girls quit sports by the time they end puberty, P&G partnered with academy award nominated documentary filmmaker Nanette Burstein to find out how girls feel about playing sports.

This resulted in a #LikeAGirl video, asking girls about their athletic experiences, the challenges and the benefits, what helped them stay in the game or what led them to quit. Among these stories was that of U.S. soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan who has partnered with Always #LikeAGirl to share her own story and encourage girls to keep playing sports.

Meanwhile, European producer SCA has made targeting teenage girls a key part of its expansion strategy as well. “Today’s teenagers are our future consumers,” says Pilar Diaz Gonzalez, feminine hygiene brand manager. “Across the globe we have different programs in place reaching out to teenagers, such as providing educational kits with our products and brochures that are distributed at schools, offering a specific product range for teenagers and by inspiring and advising via forums, apps and content on our website.”

Svetlana Uduslivaia of Euromonitor says that offering teen-centered products is not necessarily a new trend and is part of a category diversification/segmentation strategy that maintains the category dynamic and creates opportunities for value-added products. Brand loyalty can change a few years after a girl started getting her period and she starts experimenting more with products and brands. “Forming a bond can help keep women within a specific portfolio of brands/products through woman’s life stages,” she says.

Spreading the Wealth
A major concern within the feminine hygiene market is the lack of access many women have to these products. This lack of access is not just a problem in the developing world where social stigmas and lack of disposable income have hindered growth of feminine hygiene products, but also in impoverished areas of the developed areas like North America and the U.S. It is estimated that the average woman spends $100 per year on feminine hygiene products and this is unattainable.

In July, the U by Kotex brand partnered with  DoSomething.org  on Power to the Period, the first-ever, national period products donation drive and second installment of the U by Kotex Period Projects - a groundbreaking series of projects, each inspired by a woman who shares the brand’s passion for creating real change.

Power to the Period helped provide period products for many of the 3.5 million Americans in need by encouraging people to collect and donate extra packages of period products to homeless shelters this fall. The drive collected over 200,000 items around the country.

“Many people who experience homelessness have limited to no access to period products. It’s time to change that,” says Holly Sanchez, Chicago-based law student and Power to the Period Project Captain. “I posted a tweet encouraging people to buy and donate an extra pack of period products to benefit people in homeless shelters. U by Kotex responded with the opportunity to create the first-ever, national period product drive with DoSomething.org, so I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in this rewarding project!”

Feminine hygiene needs has also been addressed by government officials. In July, the New York City Council unanimously passed legislation guaranteeing access to free feminine hygiene products to a wide-ranging group of women and girls who are generally unable to easily afford or obtain these products. The group includes Department of Correction inmates, persons residing in a city shelter, youth under the care of certain children’s services facilities and public school students.

The signing of this legislation comes as a result of continued efforts by officials including New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland as part of an initiative to make free feminine hygiene products more widely available across the city. “I am proud to lead the nation towards menstrual equity by guaranteeing access to pads and tampons to hundreds of thousands of women and girls,” says Ferreras-Copeland.

Feminine hygiene manufacturer Hospeco was praised for its participation in this initiative, which included the design and distribution of the first dispenser for sanitary napkins and tampons on a complimentary basis. That dispenser was installed last year in Corona (Queens), New York’s High School for the Arts and Business, as part of the only government initiative of its kind in the nation, in partnership with Ferreras-Copeland and the New York City Department of Education. Efforts to expand this initiative rapidly gained more attention, and this new legislation is a direct result of those efforts.

The company’s unique dispenser features an easier-to-use, ADA-compliant, push-button dispensing mechanism. Front-loaded on the door, the dispenser is easy to restock, and features an adjustable channel to accommodate different strengths of products—both super and regular tampons, for example—instead of all one kind. There is also a sensor that lights up when the machine is empty removing the mystery that’s prevented many women from using such dispensers before now.

But the most important option is that the facility owner has the option of offering the machine’s products on a complimentary basis. Hospeco says it believes that providing the option for free tampons and pads can help a facility enhance its brand.

Good will is also being seen on the entrepreneurial level in feminine hygiene.

For Molly Hayward, the path into feminine hygiene started in the developing world. While working in Kenya, she met young girls who talked about schools being built and uniforms being made for them, but once per month they encountered a problem no one was solving—their periods. She set out to develop a company that did for feminine hygiene products what Tom’s shoes did for footwear and Warby Parker did for glasses.

“I was just so struck by their stories,” she says. “It was this immediate desire to me as a relatively privileged Western woman to do something about this. I knew instinctively that women in this society would have empathy for women.”

Back in the U.S., Hayward, a career entrepreneur, was introduced to Morgen Newman, who had visions of a subscription based feminine hygiene brand. The two soon teamed up and developed Cora, a manufacturer of tampons made from premium organic cotton, featuring fit for leak protection and a BPA-free compact plastic applicator and soft and silent wrappers. The first delivery of these products comes with a signature kit, which offers discreet packaging options like a vegan leather clutch that can hold the product within a handbag as well as several stowaways, lipstick-sized cardboard capsules that won’t get destroyed in a purse.

“We looked at the products available and it seemed like everything was being made and marketed for a fearless, much younger person and I realized how this made me perceive my period as something negative,” Hayward says. “I realized that there was an opportunity to create a brand that represents the modern woman who is health conscious, design conscious, needs convenience and has a global conscious.”

Cora was launched in February 2016 as a subscription-based tampon supplier and in September distribution was expanded to include 200 Target stores nationwide.

“I think there is an advantage to launching online today with a really well designed product with a strong brand message,” she says. “We felt like it was really important to get our feet wet with an initial subscriber base and we reached out to that group first.”

Understanding that most women don’t use tampons exclusively, Cora is planning to expand its lineup into other areas.

In addition to offering a stylish and environmentally alternative in the hygiene space, Cora has partnered with an Indian feminine hygiene manufacturer to supply Indian women, 88% of which do not have access to adequate feminine hygiene items, with menstrual pads. Each month, Cora takes a percentage of its revenue and sources Indian-made pads for supply in the country. That partner, Aakar Innovations, not only provides biodegradable made pads for local women, it employs Indian women, many of which would not have a safe employment alternative.

“I did not just want to import another product into India and I found a partner in India that makes biodegradable fem hygiene products with a social enterprise profile,” she says. “Essentially the way our model works, we use our profit to buy the products they are making in India. We are generating revenue for those social enterprises.”

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