Actress Courtney Cox was the first person to say the word “period” on American television. We’ve come a long way from that first commercial in 1985. Sales of feminine hygiene and sanitary protection products such as pads, panty liners, tampons, and wipes are expected to continue growing with sales of $4.9 billion per year and forecasted to climb another 13 percent by 2017. Nowadays, when we think of feminine hygiene products, we think of an attractive woman in her 20s twirling in a white dress on a summer day. However, it wasn’t until that infamous Tampax commercial when the word period was mentioned that the messy and painful reality of it could be brought to consumer’s attention.
Marketing feminine hygiene products, particularly to girls who are hitting puberty at younger ages, can be a challenge. Within the feminine hygiene and sanitary protection products category, brand loyalty and product efficacy continues to remain important to women and an increase in trends toward hygiene in all areas of life is expected to spur sales of feminine needs of products. According to Mimmi Lagergren, corporate communications manager of SCA, “Women’s needs continue to evolve. We continue to invest in research across the world to keep up to date with women’s needs, whether it’s the need for convenience or feeling fresh while on the go.”
Research suggests that feminine hygiene manufacturers face market maturity, but brands such as Kimberly-Clark are taking advantage by relying on brand loyalty to reach out to young consumers. In early 2010, Kimberly-Clark launched U by Kotex, a new line featuring brighter graphics and more modern packaging to appeal to girls just entering puberty. Almost immediately, this brand grabbed the market share away from a leading competitor. Marketing feminine hygiene products involves not only introducing new products to target the demographic, but also includes unique advertising to connect the audience and the brand.
HelloFlo, a tampon company, decided to reverse the stereotype of the attractive 20-something and replace her with 11 to 13 year olds who are experiencing their periods for the first time. We see this girl, or the “Camp Gyno” free throwing around tampons for anyone who needs them. Those uncomfortable cramps are even put in a humorous light with the Camp Gyno telling a girl rolling around on her bed that this is her life now.
This is not the first ad that has taken a different route when promoting feminine hygiene products. An Australian company called Libra Invisible decided to poke fun at the idea of men not understanding periods by having a man stick pads all over his body to make him look like a superhero. Companies like HelloFlo and Libra Invisible prove that taking the uncomfortable aspects of life and putting a positive spin is is a viable and amusing (and effective!) way to market products..
Although the products are being aimed at younger girls, companies that produce feminine hygiene products also understand the importance of focusing efforts on existing customers. Women tend to be very loyal to their preferred feminine hygiene products, making them ideal customers. Advertising is also used to encourage the trend to shift from youth and beauty to healthy and educational (and even humorous).