Young women sitting outdoors eating apples

Femcare products: growing competition, huge innovation, plenty of room for growth

The femcare products market is rapidly expanding according to a high-competition, disruptive-innovation kind of model. Once dominated by a handful of players, the feminine hygiene industry is getting crowded. Several factors are driving growth, such as the booming omnichannel approach, the upsurge of cause marketing and the steady rise of eco-friendly feminine products[1] .

Let’s have a look.

The femcare market goes omnichannel 

COVID-19 has been a watershed moment for retailers of femcare products. As soon as stay-at-home measures took place, the spike in demand short circuited the supply, generating scarcity for a wide variety of goods. Not finding their favorite products on the shelves, many consumers were exposed to competitive solutions, often switching brand and store as a result. 

Most importantly, a greater concern for gatherings and social contact led consumers all over the world to change the way they shop, pushing them to look for alternatives that integrate offline and online channels into a single unified customer experience. This model of distribution, sales and engaging with customers is called omnichannel.

Accelerated by the pandemic, the bricks-and-clicks retail strategy is quickly becoming a standard in the feminine hygiene products market. Established and newer brands are opening new touchpoints every day, interacting with consumers on multiple platforms, be they e-commerce, social media or in person through clicks-and-mortar shops.

Most new products take off online via direct-to-consumer advertising and only then land in stores and supermarket aisles. It has become apparent, in fact, that despite the flashy boom of e-commerce, a solid amount of buyers still shop offline. For this very reason, startups and new venues in the space are looking for an entry in the much-desired supermarket shelf.

This phenomenon is also linked with the rise of Private Label companies in the Disposable Hygiene industry. Indeed, Private Labels in the feminine hygiene products market have now morphed into social media-savvy direct-to-consumer brands, focused on storytelling, positioning and continuous technological innovation. Thanks to their seamless connection with the customer, Private Labels can now exploit a wealth of data on how people find them and what they buy. 

In light of this, the landscape of femcare products is getting more and more complex year over year. While traditional companies have vast financial resources to invest into omnichannel, Direct-to-Consumer brands have an edge in terms of customer engagement and tend to be better positioned to adapt to a rapid market shift.

Cause marketing and femcare products: a relationship that pays off

A growing body of literature shows that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a top priority for consumers[2] . This is also true for femcare brands. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that cause marketing is gradually becoming a must for femcare products companies. 

Once a guerilla marketing tactic, cause marketing is now employed by more and more companies - especially direct-to-consumer brands. Interestingly, the main topic is no longer limited to eliminating period stigmas. DTC companies have expanded their cause marketing initiatives to include themes such as body positivity, access to menstrual products and even period education.

These endeavors are carried out through various platforms, both offline and online. From girls' clubs and parenting groups to schools, local communities and healthcare facilities, there is greater and greater will to fight menstruation shame and promote awareness. Given the rising interest in the matter, companies are seizing the opportunity, taking action with bold and witty measures in order to steer public discourse. Campaigns now go as far as incorporating actors, edutainment content, comedy sketches, Q&A with experts on social media and even donations of period panties and menstrual care products.

Eco-friendly feminine products are no longer a niche

In the femcare market of 2021, positioning is key. And since most manufacturers of menstrual care products tackle the mass market, direct-to-consumer brands are now addressing green-conscious customers in the natural and organic space in an effort to stand off from the competition and gain media coverage. Sustainability has in fact become a major driver of sales. Eco-friendly feminine products are no longer a niche. 

Other than an ever-growing demand for corporate sustainability[3] , this is also due to a brands’ necessity to diversify the offer in North America and Europe, where the penetration of disposable hygiene is sky-high and there’s little to no room for acquiring new customers if not at the expense of other companies.

Sustainability meets innovation

A very promising area is that of organic pads and natural feminine products. As of today, more than 90% of menstrual care products are disposable. That accounts for 75,000 to 125,000 tons of solid waste in Germany, Austria and Switzerland[4] .

Considering this, a number of women are looking at sustainable and performance alternatives that integrate naturally sourced bio-based material such as cotton and retailers are taking notice. Indeed, organic pads and bio-based menstrual care products occupy a larger and larger share of store shelves. This happens because most consumers perceive cotton as safe, soft and natural - plus, cotton enhances the image of an eco-conscious brand.

But companies thinking they can simply buy their way into this eco-friendly niche with a cover made of cotton will be displeased. Customers, in fact, are thoroughly looking at ingredients and product labels; as a result, brands are now listing in the label where each part is sourced. Transparency in labeling is now key for consumers, who demand natural and organic raw materials. But innovation in accountability does not come solely from within the industry: legislation mandating disclosure of ingredients have already been introduced in a few US states.

If you want to expand your business into femcare products, get in touch!

[1] Source: Nonwovens Industry
[2] Source: Business Wire
[3] According to McKinsey, companies with high ESG ratings consistently outperform the market in both the medium and long term.
[4] Source: Nonwovens Industry
See all news See all news