SKU’d Thoughts 51: Have CPG companies done enough for feminine care?
Over fifty billion dollars. That is what the feminine hygiene market is expected to reach by 2027. This is a massive figure when you realize that the sector is still underserved — only 4% of healthcare R&D goes towards women’s health. Although menstruation products have evolved since Kimberly-Clark introduced Kotex sanitary napkins in the 1920s, much of these product innovations have been driven by upstart brands like This is L (2019 P&G acquisition P&G), Queen V (2021 Reckitt Benckiser acquisition), Thinx, and more. Despite these advances, feminine care still carries a stigma in many parts of the world. If topics like menstruation, a necessary function experienced by half of the world’s population, are still taboo, imagine the lack of awareness and support for other conditions affecting women.
One such condition is vulvodynia. It is a chronic pain characterized by burning, stinging itching, or rawness of the vulva. An estimated 16 percent of women in the U.S. will have vulvodynia at some point in their lives. The condition can occur at any age, but research has found that women between the ages of 20 and 40 years are most likely to experience it. In severe cases, it can become difficult to wear pants or underwear and sit for long periods of time. Some risk factors include feelings of depression and hopelessness, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, there is a financial impact, which according to a 2010 NVA survey, can cost individuals about ~$18,000 (~$22,000 today if adjusted for inflation) in annual pain management spend. The survey also found the annual burden on the U.S economy was between $31 to 72 million.
There is no identifiable cause for vulvodynia but doctors have recommended a wide range of therapies to alleviate vulva pain, from over-the-counter pain relievers to home remedies like applying a towel-wrapped cold pack or frozen vegetables to the area. These home remedies are not discreet and are limited to home use.
Given the fact that this condition afflicts millions of women, it is a surprise established CPG players like P&G or Unilever have not developed a solution. This is one of the reasons I was excited to invest in Private Packs. The company provides women with a discreet on-go vulva pain relief pack and understands that its solution will help many women improve their daily lives.