5 Upcoming Trends that will Disrupt India's Feminine Hygiene Industry

The feminine hygiene market in India has been growing steadily and currently stands at INR 2,200 crore and we should be focusing on capturing 88per cent of the population that is currently not using any sanitary care products

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By Gauri Singhal


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The feminine hygiene sector in India has begun to expand, and a number of trends are on the rise in this industry. Gone are the days when women had limited options for their hygiene concerns, and periods were only associated with pain, cramps and general discomfort! New-age sanitary wellness brands have made it possible for this time of the month to be a comfortable experience, especially for those women who are constantly on the go.

Here are five of the most prominent trends on the rise in this space.

  • Growth of the Rural Market

Currently, 88per cent of women in India does not use any kind of sanitary care products. These women are largely situated in the rural parts of the country and do not have access to such products due to a lack of availability, awareness or budget. Bigger players in the feminine hygiene market such as Johnson & Johnson and P&G are primarily focusing on pushing their products across this untapped market at the bottom of the pyramid. Smaller players such as Emami and Pari are also entering the feminine hygiene market with price points that are suitable to women in rural areas as well. Further, the government and several new-age start-ups are going above and beyond to spread awareness through marketing campaigns, education drives and more. NGOs, schools and cinema alike are doing their bit to spread awareness and education about feminine hygiene in rural areas.

Equipped with the newfound knowledge and need for better sanitary care, rural India presents a great opportunity for innovative and convenient feminine hygiene products that can revolutionize the market and accelerate the growth of the category in a major way. However, this growth will be achieved only when brands identify the existing gaps between rural and urban markets and bridge the same using affordable, convenient and ground-breaking products across numerous socio-economic settings.

  • Breaking the Taboo

In the past, all advertising campaigns and communication from leading market players have been too hush-hush. Simply put, brands have been whispering about periods, which makes people feel uneasy speaking up about the topic. Since there is not enough open dialogue about menstruation, it is still being considered a taboo topic. For instance, actions such as using blue dyes instead of red colour in brand communication intensify the widespread distaste around menstruation. New-age feminine hygiene players are breaking this taboo while making people feel comfortable talking about periods. Entering the market as a breath of fresh air, these players are using bold and quirky advertising which shuns the blue and embraces the red, to encourage people to start conversations about periods. These brands are spreading awareness about new and innovative sanitary care products and letting women know that there are better alternatives out there for them.

  • Product Innovation

The international feminine hygiene market is penetrated by several brands and the market is shared by pads and tampons in a balanced manner. In developed markets, the sale of tampons can go up to 60per cent as compared to sanitary pads. In India, however, this number is below 1per cent. Currently, Indian women have limited access to new and innovative products such as tampons in the feminine hygiene market. Leading players are focusing on capturing 88per cent of the population that is currently not using any sanitary care products while no innovation or fortification is being carried out for the 12per cent population that has been using the same old methods of sanitary care for years.

To combat this problem, several innovative start-ups are now bringing international top quality products such as digital viscous tampons, panty liners and intimate hygiene washes to the Indian market at prices that are conveniently affordable for all demographics. Further, to reduce the pain during periods, indigenous companies are coming up with innovative pain relief methods. Solutions such as herbal pain-relief patches are becoming popular in India – a market that is growing globally too. Innovation and its acceptance, therefore, will be the predominant trends in the feminine hygiene space in the days to come.

  • Emergence of More Start-ups and Funding

With newer innovations revolutionizing the market, the feminine hygiene space is seeing interest from several leading VCs and investors. Prominent investors such as Kae Capital, Sixth Sense Ventures and Matrix partners have already invested in leading startups in the sector. Till now, the feminine hygiene space in India is one of the most under-penetrated markets in the consumer products segment. The market is dominated by a few big players which is why consumers have restricted options in terms of products and price. However, with rapid urbanization, increasing disposable incomes and the growing number of working women, a greater focus is being laid on affordable and accessible feminine hygiene products across demographics. Startups are working towards new innovations while spreading awareness about feminine hygiene in Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities. Bolstered by the investor funding that the sector has been receiving, these startups are set to facilitate hockey stick growth of the category in the years to come.

  • Rapid Category Evolution

As awareness and disposable incomes of women increase, there has been significant traction across niche categories within the grooming industry at large. A few years ago, a lot of new brands entered the men's grooming market which is an INR 5000-crore market today. Further, the Indian consumer market witnessed an increased demand for premium and innovative baby care and grooming products. These sectors received a lot of positive attention from investors and innovation by start-ups. These are prime examples of how niche categories can witness widespread disruption by way of increased awareness, rising incomes, and penetration by innovative yet affordable brands. A similar scenario is now panning out for feminine hygiene space. Newer players, established brands, mainstream cinema, government initiatives and leading investors are now focusing on the feminine hygiene sector, as a result of which, the category is likely to witness massive growth and development in the years to come.

New entrants in the feminine hygiene market are making major efforts to spread awareness about better products that offer more comfort and convenience. They are aiming to shatter myths and help people make the switch to more innovative products. The feminine hygiene market in India has been growing steadily and currently stands at INR 2,200 crore. Through the above trends, it is clear that further growth will be championed by groundbreaking startups that are focusing on improving the quality of sanitary care in the country, and allowing women to lead their best, most comfortable life, even when they are on their period.

Gauri Singhal

Founder and CEO of FLOH

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