Flipping the Script on Women’s ‘Wellness’

Consumer Brands Placing Female Health in Her Hands

For years now ‘health and wellness’ has been an integral part of our day-to-day vernacular. Whether it’s scheduling in yoga with friends, grabbing a superfood smoothie on-the-go, or popping a brightly coloured CBD gummy as you relax on the weekend, the ways in which we think about, manage, and indulge in self-care has significantly shifted in the past 10 years. And the industry is only just getting started.

The wellness industry has recently been estimated as a $4.5 trillion-dollar global industry*, and, compared to many other industries, women are leading the charge when it comes to the development and launch of brands and services, especially those that cater to women. According to the Global Wellness Summit in 2018, there is no other industry of its size as heavily dominated by women, which is not only brilliant but absolutely about time.

Why? Because women’s health has always suffered from gender bias when it comes to both research and solutions. However, while there is always more to be done, progress is gradually being made and, with a nod to the importance of research and insight a recent groundbreaking partnership between Hologic (a global leader in women’s health) and Gallup (a leading analytics and consulting firm) is setting the scene for a more positive future. Together, they are leading the charge with the launch of the ‘Hologic Global Women’s Health Index’, the largest and most comprehensive assessment of women’s health in the world. A press launch confirms that ‘this multi-year initiative is the first survey to track critical markers of women’s health and safety by country over time’. Finally, not just a step but a leap towards a better understanding and commitment to change in women’s health.

But while we wait for data to roll in and for change to take effect in the more structured field of medical research, as referenced earlier, female founders and female focused consumer brands are taking matters into their own brands. And they’re not being shy in doing so!

Traditionally, there has been a stigma associated with talking about or representing female health and physiology. So, when it comes to women’s health and wellness products available to consumers directly (i.e. without prescription) historically, there have been challenges.

Whether it is a lack of products available for the experiences that women exclusively face (namely menstruation, pregnancy, post-partum and menopausal symptoms) or a secrecy in the language and imagery used around these products on pack and in broader comms (‘feminine hygiene’ as a catch all term and tampon ads featuring blue blood anyone?!), women have had to work hard to find solutions that are designed for them and that truly represent the female health experience in an honest and realistic way. This means that shopping for women’s health products has been more difficult to navigate, less enjoyable and to an extent, shrouded in shame.

But thankfully. All of that is changing. Over the past 5-10 years, female first consumer health brands have been propelled onto the scene. Enabled and amplified by social media, emboldened by millennial spirit and executed with dynamic creative, there are now some standout brands that are leading the charge in how we talk about, shop, and treat female health. Let’s explore a few!

Taking a female first approach to women’s health is the brand ‘Love Wellness’. Launched in 2016, this brand is championing a more open and honest culture around women’s health and amplifies the importance of the female experience and expertise in product creation. Recognizing the limitations for women in traditional healthcare spaces the brand mission statement offers a commitment to ‘holistic care from people who have been there. Through education, support, and effective products, we help you find solutions that traditional healthcare could never.’

Importantly, Love Wellness know that to break the stigma in this space, packaging and communication around women’s health products needs to be relatable, bold and honest. Across their range of vaginal health, gut health and brain and total body health products, packaging is designed to be both seen and shoppable! It is bright, it is bold, it uses typology and graphics that align with the target age group and with product names like ‘#mood pills’, ‘UTI don’t think so’, and ‘Sex stuff’ it reflects language that could have been directly lifted from a group chat with a best friend. Available both online and now in retail, Love Wellness brings a new attitude and new accessibility to women’s holistic health. About time, right?

While Love Wellness is stepping in to offer broad, holistic care of female wellness, the Frida Mom brand (see also Frida Baby) is taking hold of ‘the raw realities of motherhood’. This brand is lifting the lid on the physical reality of life as a new mom with their CEO a self-titled ‘fussbuster’ looking to bring her experiences to the fore. Indeed, the reality of female health post-partum isn’t often openly discussed, once a baby arrives, we think of brands and products showcasing the warm fuzz of the newborn bubble; think soft white towels, pastel blankets and kind-to-skin baby lotions. But what about Mom?!

Honing in on both post-partum recovery and breast care, Frida Mom uses direct, raw, and real language to name and communicate their product offer, just take ‘Postpartum Gummies for Pooping’ as an example or the descriptor for their Postpartum Recovery kit; ‘The kit for when s%*t gets real’. In creating an overall brand look and aesthetic for their packaging they balance the traditionally associated colors of new motherhood, think pastel blues and pinks, with simple yet effective graphics to demonstrate the products. However, they embolden this with their ‘to the point’ product names and taglines, (‘Cool it vag’ for example describing their post-natal recovery wipes), descriptions and brand imagery across social and digital channels which showcase a diverse array of female bodies in their natural states.

Overall, this positioning is communicating to women everywhere that they understand you, they know the consumer needs in this space, and they aren’t afraid of breaking the taboo of speaking about, showcasing, and offering products to meet this previously ‘unspoken’ experience.

And finally, when we think female health, an increasingly uncovered experience, finally, is that of the menopause. With half of the global population set to experience menopause and one in ten women starting to experience this in their 40’s, this is a huge area to explore and even more importantly, to help women to manage through products and services. Globally, we are starting to see more research, evidence, support and conversation about this transformational period in women’s lives and finally, we are also starting to see consumer facing solutions hitting the market to support women.

Here in the UK, Health & Her is a female fist start up combining clinical guidance and expertise with nutritional supplements and wellness products to support women through the symptoms of menopause. In stating their mission, the founders state it’s ‘time to cut through the confusion when it comes to female health and build an offering that empowers women to own their journey through menopause’. With a product offering tailored by symptom and an approach to pack design that emphasizes product benefits and symptom relief, these products are offering women a way to take control over their personal health and to feel more empowered in managing their journey through menopause.

So, what does this all mean? Well, we know there is still a long way to go when it comes to addressing the balance in women’s health, and we know that importantly irrespective of gender, health is paramount for all pre and post pandemic. The introduction of new, consumer facing brands that change the way shoppers think about, manage, and treat their health is an incredibly exciting space to watch and as this blog shows, there’s a whole new way to stand out, make noise and connect with consumers in authentic ways.

Understanding how consumers shop for healthcare products standing out to them in store and online, and understanding how key healthcare categories overall are evolving will be key for brands in this space in the future. Here at Behaviorally we are well placed to support with these unique challenges in the most important of sectors. If you would like to know more about our work in health and wellness then get in touch with our team, we’d love to talk!

In the meantime, #BeHealthy and #BeWell


Emma Kirk - Circle Crop

Emma Kirk is VP of Market Development in Europe at Behaviorally and is based in the UK. Despite her British roots Emma loves international travel and work abroad and in the last 15 years has worked in Florida, France and New York City. With a background in Psychology and Sociology Emma loves exploring human behavior while also keeping an eye on socio-cultural trends and how they influence the consumer landscape. Fun fact, she is also a gluten-free food blogger, sharing her foodie finds with her thousands of Instagram followers!

Connect with her on Twitter @Research_Em1 or on LinkedIn.

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