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Feminine Hygiene is Changing. Here's why it's for more than a period.

Feminine Hygiene is Changing. Here's why it's for more than a period.

(Not because of our lame headlines). Almost 40% of women in the market for period products* have switched or are still considering switching to reusables

A recent study* released by sustainability focused researchers, Shelton Group, fielded in July 2018 of 2,012 women showed that 40% of women, including 59% of younger women between 18 & 24 years have switched or are likely to switch to reusable period products. Their main general reason is environmental concerns. It is well known that this group feel strong personal responsibility for their own habits and make purchases that consciously and positively impact the environment, and these choices aren't just relevant to the feminine hygiene market as they define pretty much all purchase choices made by this group.

The 18 - 24 year old group are the most conscious about preserving natural resources, reducing waste and exposing themselves or the rest of the world to risky chemicals through personal use or introducing chemicals to waterways via landfill or the drain.  Many commercial pads and tampons contain fragrances, adhesives and chlorine or bleaching agents. It turns out that most women (see table below), including those who haven't made the switch to reusables, are concerned about the safety of period products

If you are a consumer, wondering about the pros and cons of switching, Here's what the report reported (!) on factors other then health:

  • Saving money. The upfront investment in a cup or period pants is higher, but the cost much lower in the long term.
  • Effectiveness. Nearly 40% of women using reusables said they switched for effectiveness. Cups in particular were cited as virtually eliminating leaks.
  • Convenience. While the idea of having to clean your own hygiene products might take a bit to get your head around, it's far more convenient to carry a cup or have a pair of knickers ready than always carrying tampons and shopping for them every month.

A sustainable feminine hygiene market ambush?

Manufacturers and re-sellers of reusable period products probably already know that they are in big and growing market. According to Shelton Group, the more traditional product manufacturers seem to be in complete denial about the potential to be over taken by the sustainable innovators as women who try reusables typically say they work better. They liken the market to how digital cameras completely disrupted the film market and sent Kodak into virtual oblivion. 

There is also the point that specific products have the potential to shine a spotlight on any company's broader stewardship. If a consumer perceives, either because of a product or general behaviour, that a brand doesn't care about the environment or their customer's health, then the brand risks the loyalty to its entire product line. 

Market growth

The upward trajectory signs are good according to Shelton Group. The global market for feminine hygiene products (including internal cleansers and disposable razors and blades along with tampons, pads, and panty liners) accounted for $31.23 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $62.84 billion by 2026. 

  • In 2016, menstrual cups alone held a 3.2% ($995 million) share of that global market, expected to reach $1.51 billion by 2023. 
  • The global period panties market held a value of $79 million in 2017 and is expected to reach $540 million before 2026. 
  • The organic pad and tampon global market held a value of $590.6 million in 2017 (19% of global total) and is projected to grow at 8.67% through 2023.

A note on Shelton Group

Shelton Group research, produce and share a number of studies. Shelton Group are a leading USA marketing communications firm focused exclusively on sustainability - for anyone trying to build a brand around responsibility and sustainability – or sell products that minimize environmental impact. (The content direction as acknowledged and some images in this article came from Shelton Group.) are not affiliated with the group in any way, but we do use their research extensively as both their understanding and interest in sustainability markets and furthering the cause of sustainable brands is unique.

​Images in order: Modibodi | Shelton Group x2  | Modibodi | JujuLunette | Lunette & Hanna Pad by Little Eco Shop
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Simone N

I love that this is a hot topic and while some of my traditional friends reel at the topic I am super proud I finally made the switch to a menstrual cup and undies! I was worried about comfort and getting it out which had me sitting on the fence for over a year but a very generous and knowledgeable sales person gave me the confidence and advice to give it a shot. By my second cycle I had it pretty well mastered. It’s so much better than tampons in every way. Wednesday, 12 June 2019