The brands finally addressing the menopause market
Editorial

The brands finally addressing the menopause market

Move over Millennials - there’s a new audience rising up marketers’ radars: ‘prime time’ women experiencing the menopause.

With an estimated 1.3 million people entering the menopause each year, and 1.1 billion women thought to be at this point in their life in 2021, it’s an issue deemed worthy of its own World Menopause Awareness Month, taking place this October.

It’s an audience that’s finally starting to be taken seriously, with the UK already establishing itself as a pioneer in public policies and corporate cultures that support working women with the menopause, helping manage common symptoms of this period of life, such as hot flushes, sleeplessness and ‘brain fog’.

Big brands such as Vodafone, British broadcaster Channel 4, bank HSBC, car sales website Auto Trader and others have adopted policies that include paid leave and menopause training, to help address the 59 percent of working women in the UK between 45 and 55 with menopause symptoms, that say it negatively impacts them at work.

From a marketing perspective, it has largely been an area brands have shied away from, up until recently. Now, we're seeing brands like Always create dedicated menopause content, while Boots’ former chief marketer Helen Normoyle left late last year to launch My Menopause Centre, which offers personal online advice for women experiencing symptoms.

Prime time potential

It makes sense. Stats from The Coca-Cola Company reveal that there is a group of 40 million women in the US who are over 50, close to the average age when the menopause tends to begin, representing over $15 trillion dollars in purchasing power. According to Forbes, they’re the healthiest, wealthiest, and most active generation in history.

And a slew of new menopause-specific brands and product lines are emerging to cater to this audience. For example, Kindra, the first company launched by P&G Ventures, the startup arm of the FMCG giant, offers menopause-specific tailored supplements and lotions.

The brand also recently launched a disruptive new ad campaign to take on the taboo of stigmatised words on social media, addressing the double-standard between products that are targeted to men versus women.

Following suit is Johnson & Johnson, who has partnered with the wearable technology company Embr Labs to release its Wave 2 device to relieve hot flushes. Meanwhile, despite the growing market for CBD-related health products, wellness startup Hello Again claims to be the only cannabis brand targeted at the menopause market. 

‘Prime time women’, as Embr Labs has dubbed this consumer group, accounts for 60% of the company’s customer base, which its VP of product and marketing, Heather Ritchie, describes as “notoriously underserved”.

“Many are women who are at the top of their earning potential and need a solution for everyday life, including the workplace, where menopause is still a taboo topic.  Even with over 30 documented symptoms tied to menopause, it remains something not taken as seriously as it should, given both the overall health and economic impacts menopause has been associated with,” Ritchie states.

“It’s been interesting to see the focus shift to this audience in the last year because before that menopause was, and still is, very stigmatising.”

The brand’s biggest consideration, Ritchie adds, was to examine that core buyer of ‘prime time women’, from their day-to-day life to their self-care rituals, emotional motivations, and where they currently turn to for menopause symptom relief.

“We know women are more proactively seeking solutions for menopause than ever before, and the target audience is more open to technology-focused solutions than previous generations,” she says.

Shedding light on the stigma

Hello Again, meanwhile, has taken on the challenge of two stigmatised areas - menopause and cannabis - with its unique CBD and THC infused vaginal suppositories which it claims help treat hot flushes and sleeplessness. The key, says marketing director Hallman Ray, is to not take itself too seriously.

“If you are going to spend a lot of your day talking about vaginas and cannabis, you have to bring humour and fun to the conversation,” Ray quips.

“We stand out as the only product in the cannabis space marketed to women in menopause and we like it that way.”

Yet despite the light-hearted approach, it’s important to equip its audience with all the facts around both menopause and the use of cannabis-based products to treat it, Ray adds.

“We know our product is unique and requires education. Many women are not familiar with a vaginal suppository and have never used cannabis for wellness. In addition, they do not openly discuss menopause with their partners or friends. It’s important that we create opportunities for honest and relatable conversations around all of these topics,” she says.

“We want to give women the opportunity to have open and honest discussions about this stage in life. No longer are menopausal women in the last chapters of their life. Today, women in menopause are living vibrant and active lives. Hello Again aims to demystify menopause and using cannabis for wellness, to give women the freedom and confidence to take charge of their own lives.”

Tackling ageism at the same time

Challenging stereotypes around menopause will also have the dual effect of tackling ageism, argues Jane Austin, owner of Persuasion Communications, whose clients span marcomms, tech, broadcast, design and fitness.

Austin believes the “prevalent ageism” of the “youth-obsessed” and “overwhelmingly pale, male and stale” advertising industry is partly to blame for women fearing being open about the menopause, both because of how they’ve been negatively treated when they are, and a lack of role models.

It’s high time marketers embraced older women as not just their target audience but their ambassadors, to help women own such a crucial time in their lives, Austin asserts.

“It’s the whole culture of the UK that needs to change - middle aged women often feel invisible not just in the workplace, but in society as a whole and even sometimes the butt of jokes - you know, ‘it's her hormones, she's having a hot flush, get her a fan etc’,” she explains.

“It’s great that high profile women like Meg Mathews, Davina McCall, Gabby Logan and Loose Women’s Brenda Edwards are talking about menopause, but we still live in a patriarchal society which prizes youth and good looks in women.

“We're a society that most certainly doesn’t want to hear about what happens when women hit the menopause - all it wants to do is market Tena Lady incontinence pads and over-50s life cover to them or chide them for dressing too young for their age, mutton dressed as lamb.”

Helping women “stop judging each other” is essential “if things are really going to change”, Austin suggests - and the brands that do this can claim their stake in history.

Marketers are responsible for producing inclusive and authentic communications that honestly reflect society. If you want to learn how to develop your D&I strategy and improve the content of your brand communications, sign up for our new Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing Communications training course.

MaryLou Costa CIM News analyst
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