More menopausal beauty and personal care brands are coming to market, but is the world ready?

Despite beauty’s preoccupation with Gen Z, a wave of menopausal brands continue to fill the market.

The latest is Womaness, a Target-exclusive brand that launched in stores last week following its DTC debut in March. Complete with a vaginal moisturizer, a lubricant product, refreshing body wipes, a night cream and a vibrator — that are all found in Target stores — Womaness’ positioning is bold. Its tagline, “Menopause, Meet Your Match,” is meant to evoke a modernness and a sense of control for women over 40.

Womaness follows other “cool” menopausal offerings from Arfa’s State Of and Procter & Gamble’s Hair Biology, both of which launched last year, as well as Better Not Younger and Kindra. And other brands that are known for younger Gen-Z and millennial shoppers are also dipping their toe into the once-taboo category. Case in point: Skin-care brand SweetSpot Labs, which launched with Ulta in fall 2020, has three menopausal products: a Rescue Balm for vulvar skin dryness, a Hydrate Ever After moisturizer for “intimate skin” and an Unscented Gentle Wash that is pH-balanced for the vulva, groin or underarm.

Sally Mueller, co-founder and CEO of Womaness, said the brand’s entree into Target was key since so many of the existing feminine care brands found in mass retailers don’t speak to the 40-plus perimenopausal and menopausal consumer. And Mueller knows this firsthand, having worked at Target for 23 years in marketing and merchandising.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, women officially enter menopause one year after their last period, which typically occurs around 51. This phase typically lasts for about four years. This demographic overspends on beauty, but has historically found options to be lacking. The AARP found in a national survey of 2,000 women that women ages 50 and older spend $22 billion a year on beauty products. Seventy percent of those ages 40 and older want to see more beauty and personal care products for perimenopausal and menopausal women. And according to the Female Founders Fund, the space is a $600 billion spending opportunity.

Still, the finessing of this conversation is ongoing, especially as brands try to prove the media’s previous perception of menopause — being dated or tired — no longer applies.

“Menopause is conflated with this idea of being past your prime,” said Stacy London, the new CEO of State Of, noting the “patriarchal, heteronormative lens.”

London, who is 51 now, began experiencing perimenopausal symptoms at 47. She was a part of the beta product test group of State Of prior to acquiring the majority of the company’s equity. (State Of’s previous parent company, Arfa, spearheaded by Henry Davis and Ariel Wengroff, has rebranded to Chord with a focus on headless commerce.)

London believes that Gen Xers, who are broaching or in the midst of menopause, have been emboldened to own this discussion because of Gen Z.  “Gen X may or may not know [everything about] gender or about race or about economic justice. But the new openness with which Gen Z talks, that transparency, has given me and my generation an incredible amount of permission to be transparent about our own struggles.”

London credits some of the change in the menopausal discussion in the media to other “unmentionable” topics like menstruation, pregnancy and fertility gaining cultural mindshare.

For Womaness, “the menopause callout is working,” said Mueller. “Women are responding positively to our message and saying it’s about time, kudos and, ‘Companies and products like these are so needed!’ They’re loving that women in menopause addressed this huge void in the market.”

Still, many of these conversations are happening behind closed doors. Womaness has engaged its private Facebook group called the “The After Party” and hosted virtual wine events, so women can talk intimately with the brand.  In many ways, these marketing tactics have replaced the standard performance strategy preferred by DTC companies.

“There’s no marketing playbook for reaching this woman, and just because you reach her, that doesn’t mean you’re going to engage her and convert her,” said Mueller. “She is very different than a millennial, in that she is more discerning and more influenced by her local friend group versus social media. This is why we’ve found it’s important to reach her through a combination of social media, both paid and organic; digital paid media, especially around her passion points; and traditional media around key events.”

Other brands are being more tentative about how they speak to this shopper and how she feels about menopause. “We don’t have concrete data indicating how women feel about menopause, and so [we’re] hesitant to claim an answer to this question,” said Julie Chamberlain, SweetSpot Labs general manager.

She noted that the brand focuses on the “truth.” It also delivers “clean, effective and consciously designed products that serve vulva health across all life stages…from menstruation to pregnancy and post-partum to menopause.” This is resonating. Year-over-year, SweetLabs has seen a 1,500% increase in sales, with retail sales growing 600%.

Better Not Younger founder Sonsoles Gonzalez emphasized that tone is everything for this woman.

“When it comes to talking ‘menopause,’ there’s still somewhat of a social stigma attached to it in some pockets of pop culture,” she said. “Our BNY community tends to be eager to discuss and learn as much as they can about the signs and symptoms of menopause and approach the topic with a great deal of humor.” This discussion is occurring in Better Not Younger’s private Facebook Group, Better Hair for Women over 40.

Better Not Younger has been solely focused on aging hair, but it’s slowly moving into cosmetics. This month, it launched a Lash Growth Serum, and in May, it will debut a Superpower Day and Night Brow Duo. Both are designed to address aging and menopause-related lash and brow thinning. In June, Better Not Younger will launch a CBD supplement containing full-spectrum CBD. Better Not Younger experienced 600% sales growth in 2020 and is expected to triple its business in 2021.

For all these brands and for the overall market to grow, London said the key is not to focus on menopause as a “problem,” since many women are underinformed and ill-prepared for these physical and emotional changes from the get.

“I felt like we could enter this conversation with an answer, rather than a problem. That’s why I decided products before platform, before community. We wanted to come to this community already armed,” she said.

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