This week at Hygienix, Sion Agami, a research fellow in P&G’s feminine care business and a key collaborator on the creation of the underwear, shared his story developing this product, a journey that included connecting with sufferers, considering thousands of design combinations and even sitting down at a sewing machine.
“We had the opportunity to help people regain their self esteem and help them feel beautiful again, Agami he says. “By doing the right research at the right time, we were able to come up with the right strategy.”
Completely absent from the adult incontinence category until the launch of the Always Discreet line three years ago, P&G now holds the no. 2 or no. 3 marketshare position in many regions and categories. The company introduced Always Discreet Boutique in Europe and June and in the U.S. in July, giving incontinence sufferers a new option beyond the current category standard—bulky absorbent underwear that look and feel more like diapers than underpants.
“We are replacing grandmama’s diapers with mama’s sexy underwear,” Agami explains.
To develop the product and find out exactly what incontinence sufferers want, P&G formed an online community where women were able to interact with other women with similar conditions.
“There were only 25 women but they were the right women,” Agami says.
The community forum was research for P&G, allowing developers to understand their behavior, but it was therapeutic for the women as they shared stories of how they came to live with incontinence.
“A major hurdle in reaching this stage is confronting the stigma—the feeling of humiliation or that they are trapped or isolated. Once this stage is reached the next step is figuring out an ideal solution,” Agami says.
And, 77% of bladder leak underwear users say that, while effective, current products make them feel older than they would like to feel and erode their confidence and femininity. Two in three women who have tried bladder leak underwear say they avoid wearing them even when they know they need them.
P&G hopes this is about to change. Made with silky-soft fabric and curve-hugging contours and available in a rosé color with delicate lace prints, the design was inspired by fashion industry trends with the help of lingerie experts and fashion designers.
The result is a product that is firmly aligned with its marketing message—The Sexiest Thing a Women Can Wear is Confidence—which was developed long before the final product.
“The marketing message was always there. We had it before the product the concept was always there even before we began to imagine in the product,” Agami recalls.
It’s a message that P&G researchers hope will transform the adult incontinence category from the “aisle of despair” to one that empowers women.