From the days when sanitary napkin advertisements featured women in pristine white pants to today wherein a majority of brands are focussing their marketing strategies on showcasing active women discussing their menstrual stories unapologetically, the industry has seen a tremendous evolution. Undoubtedly, the credit for this can be attributed to the recent wave of feminism pushing the topic of feminine health to the forefront. Consequently, this has bought about a more open conversation around menstruation amongst the media as well as a massive change in the way feminine care products are being marketed.
There are a number of brands that have been doing some good work in this field. Last year, Swedish company, Essity launched its #BloodNormal campaign in the UK and some parts of Europe, through a global film featuring young women in their everyday lives while going through their period. The film sensitively portrayed the menstrual journey of women in an attempt to demonstrate that periods are normal and should be treated as such. It bravely tackled the taboo around periods by showcasing a blood red liquid on a sanitary pad, instead of the usual ominous blue one – perhaps the first feminine hygiene brand to do so.
The thing to note here is that the brand weren’t allowed to broadcast the film without pixelating the scene with the woman changing her pad, for the fear of offending the viewers’ sensibilities. This clearly indicates that we, as a society, still have a long way to go before we can accept this natural bodily phenomenon as something normal. Meanwhile, Procter and Gamble (P&G) continues to reach out to young girls through its widely acclaimed campaign #LikeaGirl that was launched back in 2014. This campaign aims to keep young girls active and confident, keeping in mind that the first period marks the lowest-confidence moment for them.
There are scores of other brands as well that are making efforts in their own ways to dilute the stigma around menstrual products, one step at a time. Moroccan Feminine Hygiene brand, Mia did its homework before it launched itself in the market. Its branding team did a pre-launch activity to understand the sensitive nature of the Moroccan market and unearthed some surprising findings – Moroccan women being ashamed of using sanitary pads, were instead found to be using baby diapers during their periods! Based on these findings the brand decided to name their product MIA, a familiar Spanish name personifying what is “mine” as confidence in yourself.
While the conversation around menstruation surely has seen some progress in the recent years, there’s still a lot of headway to be made. Further, the Feminine Hygiene Industry itself has been largely stagnant since the past few decades. It is high time brands move away from merely revamping their existing products and bring their top game with new innovative products to meet consumers’ unidentified needs.