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Taxes, tampons, and feminine hygiene marketing

This summer, feminine hygiene products have been an unlikely topic of breaking news. Burger King ran a commercial about the pink tax, the higher price women pay for products marketed to them. The New York Times drummed up heated debate with an article about menstrual equality. New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney made national news by his effort to provide feminine hygiene products to his staffers.

No matter where you stand on these issues, this level of attention makes one thing very clear. Feminine products are a big business—a multibillion-dollar business and growing. In 2018, the industry is expected to bring in $2.7 billion in 2018 in the U.S., up 3 percent from the prior year, according to Statista.

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But will all this attention create an uptick in sales? The big feminine hygiene brands are experts at getting the cash register ringing with their products, and they didn’t spend their summer months vying for breaking-news headlines. According to Alphonso data, Always, the biggest spender in July, and Tampax, the second biggest spender, spent much of their time advertising on MTV, with focused attention on the show Teen Mom 2. Always ran its Ultra Thin "Rewrite The Rules" TV commercial on Teen Mom 2 a total of 60 times and Tampax ran its “Pearl & Active” spot on the show 53 times. These brands—both owned by Procter & Gamble—also simultaneously ran Spanish-language versions of these commercials.

Combe’s Vagisil brand also pursued this dual-language strategy for its Odor Block Daily Intimate Wash. A bilingual actor produced two versions of the spot. The English-language version ran most often on the show Snapped about female murders on the Oxygen network.

Perhaps what’s most notable about feminine hygiene brand advertising is its diversity. Of the top 10 commercials in the sector aired last month, four were repurposed for different audience sectors and many featured women of different ethnicities. They know feminine hygiene is something women care about, and brands are conscious to reflect this reality in their marketing. So, even when the 24/7 news cycle stops talking about tampons and taxes, these brands will still be getting the attention of U.S. women.

TS Kelly of AlphonsoTS Kelly is senior vice president of research for Alphonso, a TV data company that provides real-time TV campaign analytics, one-to-one TV ad retargeting, and closed-loop attribution for brands and agencies. In his role at Alphonso, Kelly deep dives into television data and insights, giving clients guidance on how to optimize their TV spend.
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