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07/26/2022

The women’s health category experiences disruption

Continued interest in self-care is driving innovation in healthcare products for women.

Here are two things we know about the state of women’s health care today: Women are becoming more educated about their own bodies, and they are prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.

COVID may have accelerated this development, but all signs point to this trend continuing to build momentum, especially as consumers of all ages are demanding better care and more natural, safe and accessible options. 

But the reasons underlying this are worth noting. Like all areas of retail, women’s health is being disrupted. Many legacy players are seeing flat to negative growth while disruptive leaders are gaining traction. As a result, women are gravitating away from their mothers’ brands toward dynamic brands that resonate with them and their lifestyle.

[Read more: Gut check: A variety of products solve the diversity of digestive issues]

The younger consumer has been breaking taboos over the past five to seven years as we witnessed disruption in the pregnancy/fertility space, period care and now mental wellness. The 40-plus consumer is embracing this mindset too and is opening up the conversation about their own health and what they need as they enter perimenopause/menopause. At the same time, many of these women feel their needs are often overlooked, as inclusion and visibility are critical to them at this point in their lives.

Better for the planet

Within the period and bladder care market, macro trends continue toward healthy-for-us, better-for-the-planet products. According to Clare Morgan, CEO of the Organic Initiative, based in Torrance, Calif., devastating climate events are contributing to this growing awareness and urgency to make changes in the way women live and the products they buy.

More than 50 million women in the United States are going through menopause at any given time.

At the same time, Morgan said greenwashing remains an issue in the period and bladder care market with some products being made from plastic and toxic chemicals. She noted that many of those “made with organic cotton” are typically only 8% organic cotton unless certified organic. “Consumers are savvy and know how to verify the quality and certifications on a product,” Morgan said. “Together, this forms the basis for consumers’ trust.” 

Going forward, Morgan said she expects there will be more diverse product choices available, such as an increasing number of reusables (menstrual cups and absorbency options) and more add-on ancillary products like prebiotics and probiotics. She also said she anticipates an increase in the number of pain relief options and interest in organic options to accelerate.

[Read more: Protect yourself: Sunscreen trends blend into the beauty space]

As for the bladder care (continence) product market, Morgan said it is continuing its upward trend as the taboo around bladder leakage fades and it’s discussed more freely, especially among younger consumers who are demanding more sustainable and healthier options. The company recently introduced its innovative incontinence range Oi Adult Care to the U.S. market.

Menopositivity

More than 50 million women in the United States are going through menopause at any given time, and the average woman in this stage of life experiences multiple symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood changes, weight gain, sleep issues, irregular periods and vaginal dryness. When you consider that women can spend more than 30% of their life in menopause, it’s no wonder that they want more education around this topic so they’re better prepared on what to expect. They are also looking for products they can trust, whether that is doctor-tested ingredients that are backed with clinical studies or products that can help treat their various symptoms.  

“The 40-plus customer is the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation. She has money to spend and she really cares about her health,” said Sally Mueller, co-founder and CEO of Womaness, based in Minneapolis. “When we founded Womaness, we decided it was time to finally help prepare her for this important transition and treat her symptoms once she starts to experience perimenopause in an informative and accessible way.”

Womaness offers a collection of modern, innovative menopause products developed for women, by women, that offer solutions from head to toe — and everything in between. “With community, education and inspiration, Womaness sparks the power of menopositivity,” Mueller said.

“The 40-plus customer is the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation. She has money to spend and she really cares about her health.” — Sally Mueller, co-founder and CEO, Womaness

As more women ask for naturally based solutions, companies have been quick to respond. Wile, a plant-powered naturopathic wellness brand for perimenopause and midlife, is shifting hormonal stigmas while looking at women and formulations holistically. The Portland, Ore.-based company was founded and formulated by women. Using naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine, Wile’s supplement capsules, tinctures and functional drinks are clinically backed to help grown women aged 40ish to 60ish feel their best. The products are 100% natural, vegan and gluten free.

Focused on hormonal health and stress, Wile is the first brand to take a holistic approach to perimenopause. Wile’s supplements can be mixed and matched for overall hormonal health and its many unpredictable symptoms. That includes stress, which impacts aging, health and perimenopause. As a brand focused on women’s health, the company’s omnichannel approach includes its recent partnership with Walgreens.

[Read more: Immunity supplements are the new multivitamin: Cold-and-flu seasonal sales spike has blossomed to 365 wellness. Get busy]

“The awareness of perimenopause and menopause currently going on in our culture is unprecedented,” said Corey Scholibo, co-founder and COO of Wile. Scholibo noted that it used to be rare to see any articles published on the topic, but now the frequency is almost daily and outlets like Vogue are calling it the trend du jour. All of this, he said, continues to raise demand for products and services that address those symptoms, but also the general wellness needs of women over 40. “Women are living 30 years longer on average, but her needs from ages 40 to 60 are largely ignored by brands and retailers,” Scholibo said. “I will say retailers like Walgreens have identified this woman as a core customer and are actively trying to grow the category to increase her support.”

Everyday Supplements

As more consumers realize the power of taking care of their well-being from the inside out, more are turning to nutritional supplements to improve their health, especially those that offer alternative delivery methods. 

Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Piping Rock, said when looking at nutritional sales during the first quarter of this year there are some clear standouts. She said sales data shows collagen is the primary contributor to the dollar growth of women’s supplements, growing nearly 24% in the last 13 weeks, which is more than four times the women’s supplement growth rate.

“Female consumers are continuing to look for products that fit their changing needs.” — Kimberly Vigliante, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Piping Rock

The Bohemia, N.Y.-based company offers a wide range of supplements under the Nature’s Truth brand of products. “Vitamin D continues to be a wellness staple among women, with Nature’s Truth driving vitamin D trends and growing at more than 1.5 times total vitamin D,” Vigliante said. She noted that along with vitamin B-12, many women are seeking out these three supplements as a proactive way to focus on their core essential needs.

Keeping a close eye on the latest trends, news and scientific studies has helped put Piping Rock in the position of offering women the wellness products in the forms they want. It also enables the company to introduce products to market at a fast rate. “Decades of industry know-how allows us to develop and introduce innovative products at the right time, with an unparalleled speed to market,” Vigliante said. “Utilizing our own state-of-the-art facilities and manufacturing equipment, we build best-in-class formulas that feature trending ingredients and unique delivery forms to satisfy the needs of today’s consumers.” 

The company also has created operational efficiencies throughout the manufacturing process, including in-house packaging, label design and printing. “Female consumers are continuing to look for products that fit their changing needs,” Vigliante said. “Gummy vitamins continue to drive interest because of their ease of use and flavor satisfaction, as do powders due to their versatility and ease of mixing into shakes and coffee.”

Product Picks

 

Wile Herbal Supplement Capsules, SRP: $39.99
In June, Wile launched a line of four daily herbal supplement capsules at Walgreens. The clinically backed supplements are made with unique herbal and plant formulas, created in partnership with naturopathic doctors and research scientists. The product lineup includes: 40+ Perimenopause Support for overall hormonal and stress support; 40+ Period Support for uncomfortably changing periods and PMS; Hot Flash to help manage and reduce night sweats; and Women’s Stress for mood swings and stress resilience in midlife.

Nature’s Truth Collagen Gummies, SRP: $13.99
These naturally flavored strawberry gummies are a fun and tasty way for women to add this important protein to their daily beauty regimen. Convenient as they are delicious, Nature’s Truth Collagen Gummies provide 120 mg of hydrolyzed collagen per serving. 

Nature’s Truth D3 + B-12 Gummies, SRP: $14.99
This trusted pair of essential vitamins has never been more delicious than in Nature’s Truth’s great-tasting D3 + B12 Gummies. Made with natural flavors only, these strawberry gummies are a vegetarian-friendly way to obtain a high-potency source of the revitalizing duo vitamin D3, known as the sunshine vitamin, and vitamin B-12.

Womaness Coco Bliss External Vaginal (and All-Over) Moisturizer, SRP: $18.99 for 4-oz.
Designed to ease vaginal dryness often experienced in menopause, this multitasker can be used as a prep for intimacy and to hydrate skin pretty much anywhere. Soothing on skin with a nonsticky, smooth texture, it has a natural coconut scent. There is absolutely no estrogen, phytoestrogen or added hormones, and it is free from animal-derived ingredients, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors, formaldehyde and mineral oils. It’s also vegan, dermatologist- and allergy-tested, and made without soy or gluten.

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