Inclusive and cause-related positioning, better-for-you ingredients, eco-friendly qualities, product innovation, and DTC e-commerce sales and subscription services is seeing a new breed of start-ups transform the traditional feminine and care and sexual wellness space, with the global sexual wellness market predicted to reach $57 billion AUD by 2024.
Traditional stigmas around sex and feminine care are fading fast, buoyed by the “Me Too” movement and growing sentiments of body and sex positivity and self care.
Investment and acquisition
As consumers transition to more non-traditional products, larger personal care companies are paying attention. Notably, in 2019 Proctor & Gamble acquired period care start-up This is L and household care company Grove Collaborative invested in sexual wellness start up Sustain Natural, while earlier in 2018 Unilever and Sundial invested in sexual wellness brand The Honey Pot.
While a challenging category to find innovation, in the US new generation feminine care companies are changing the way consumers think about periods, while start ups are redesigning, personalising, niching into segmented markets and using products to drive social, attitudinal and behavioural change.
See it in action –
The decades old menstrual cup has had a make-up over with innovative new designs, and fresh branding to targeting new, younger markets focussed on sustainability. See New Zealand’s Hello Cup and Intimina’s Lily Cup in the US, which have both solved some of the traditional challenges with using the first generation menstrual cups.
Personalised period skin care can now be found in the US with relatively newcomer Rael tapping into the period skincare market with formulas to address different skin phases throughout the month. Rael’s inventive skincare range offers targeted patches for hormonal acne, hydrating serums to prevent future blemishes and a range of botanical-infused sheet masks individually designed to nourish the skin for every stage of the female cycle.
An increasing amount of women linking sexual health and pleasure to their overall health and wellbeing has seen the demand for vaginal care products boom. Just as women incorporate face serums and body scrubs to their daily beauty routine, keeping the vagina healthy and moisturized is no different.
See it in action –
Another vaginal care product infused with hemp CBD is Hemple’s Alfie CBD Love Gel, currently only available outside of Australia due to the rules around CBD oil. This gel follows a line of hemp-infused oils for consumption. The Alfie CBD Love Gel was added to the Hemple collection to expand the range of health benefit hemp provides, including sexual sensation and helping maintain a healthy and hydrated vagina.
US company Quim has created hemp-infused vagina oils and serums to enhance sensation while keeping the vagina healthy and moisturised. Quim markets their everyday Happy Clam oil like “eye cream for your vagina.” This oil is infused with hemp CBD, a compound found in cannabis. When absorbed vaginally, CBD can increase blood flow, decrease inflammation and pain, and promote pelvic relaxation.
Next generation sexual care brands are challenging stigmas and shame and tackling fundamental issues like shame and safe sex head on with a deep understand of their markets and highly targeted messaging.
See it in action –
Australian start up Jonny is using the condom as a vehicle for social change in taking the shame out of the safe sex conversation. While jonny is ‘vegan-friendly’ this brand’s strength is its unique tone of voice. Co-founder Bec Park says, “It was important for jonny not to be the parent or the educator, instructing on right and wrong. Jonny had to become the best friend”. Jonny supports girls and women around the world by donating $1 from every pack of condoms sold online to a range of causes.
See also New Zeeland’s bonk lube, a certified organic lubricant made from hydrating aloe vera and New Zealand’s native Harakeke Extract, which enhances sexual pleasure while keeping sensitive skin healthy and happy.