How can brands do better for perimenopausal women?
For World Menopause Month, Sara Jones, co-founder and business director at creative agency Free The Birds and specialist in global beauty, health and lifestyle brands, discusses the significance of the market and how brands and businesses can rise to the challenge.
Many women feel lost when it comes to how they navigate perimenopause. Whilst this significant life stage is shared by 51% of the population – and with an expected 1.1 billion postmenopausal women worldwide by 2025 (CB Insights) – there remains a great deal of shame and emotional (let alone physical) discomfort for so many experiencing menopause. A staggering 61% of women in the UK (Holland & Barrett) won’t discuss menopause for fear of being judged.
However, there is an exciting opportunity for brands to be at the forefront, playing a pivotal role in further shifting the conversation into the mainstream. Recent news signals that this shift is gathering pace; the menopause market is estimated to be worth $16 billion by 2025. Who will be remembered as the drivers versus those who jumped on the back of an accelerating bandwagon?
Beautiful thinking on menopause
There is also a significant opportunity to shine a light for women who fear this stage in life, and inject a strengthening of spirit into this transition.
In recent years there has been an invaluable shift in how young girls and women view their periods, as well as important conversations around the difficulty faced in conceiving and pregnancy loss. But how can brands and businesses work towards a stronger offering – and a clearer voice – for women at this stage in their lives.
I believe that brands who are able to achieve an authentic voice, backed by credible insight into how women can be more than adequately supported, can become not only a source of comfort but a source of knowledge.
When there is the chance to showcase how you can live your life comfortably – even beautifully – simply by understanding how you can be better supported through health, wellness and beauty products, how do women access this knowledge?
How we identify the products
So how can these products make themselves known to women who need them? What is exciting to see is a growing number of dedicated products hitting the market which are designed and marketed specifically for women at this key stage of life. Many start-ups in particular are performing brilliantly.
From bladder health brand Jude to Womaness – a range of products to help women navigate ageing well during their 40s, 50s and beyond – these specialised brands have created products specifically designed for and directly addressing problems which women traditionally face at this stage of their lives.
But do we always need to create something brand new to break down the barriers?
What I find even more exciting is how we are seeing the big guys starting to emulate the start-ups. The Gen M movement invites brands to feature their logo on products which help to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Already partnered with Boots, Co-Op and Holland & Barrett, the collective has just achieved its latest win; Sainsbury’s has become the first of the Big Four supermarkets to feature the Gen M tick.
What Gen M has nailed is that it can be as simple as directing women towards the products which they likely already use, but with the understanding that making this a little more regular in our routine can alleviate certain symptoms of menopause. It doesn’t always need to be a brand new product created specifically for this period of life – it is an existing product which helps women to overcome their symptoms, and here is where you can find it in the aisles you visit every day.
How we select the role models
When there is the opportunity to liberate women through allyship, who are the role models they utilise to speak to their audience? Where are they speaking to them?
Beyond products themselves, the women which brands utilise to speak to their audience with integrity are vital. Who can speak to menopausal women the way Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag speaks to almost every single woman who feels like a bit of a mess? We fell in love with Fleabag because of every cringe-inducing but honest moment, and women in the Third Act deserve the same level of authenticity. We can’t all be Gwyneth (and many don’t want to be), who can we look to?
There is certainly a gap in menopausal marketing for relatable role models, and those which brands should perhaps seek to find.
Building a sense of community
Women don’t want to be defined – each and every one of us are individuals with our own voice and our own experience. We don’t want to be apologetic – so why does this sense of shame linger? My hope is that the momentum achieved will continue, and the brilliant work of both start-ups and household name businesses will continue. I believe that brands which achieve a sense of community, speak with authenticity and recognise that every woman’s experience will be individual, will achieve success.