Femtech is not just rising; it’s exploding as quickly as the category came to be.
Since 2014, femtech companies have raised over $1 billion in funding, despite the term “femtech” itself not being coined until two years later. Frost & Sullivan, a market consulting firm, predicts that femtech could have a market potential of $50 billion by 2025.
This booming success is no surprise. There is a demand that is only growing for smart products driven by science, data and technology that challenge the lack of choices traditionally offered by companies marketing to women. Choices that solve, validate and support women’s health, from first periods to post-menopause and everything in between, including fertility solutions, period-tracking apps, pregnancy and nursing care, sexual wellness and reproductive healthcare.
The key to femtech has been introducing much-needed innovation in spaces that are overlooked, despite taking up significant real estate in many women’s daily lives. Before Thinx introduced period-proof underwear in 2015, the last new option for period protection was the menstrual cup, patented in 1937. Before Clue, tracking ovulation was more of an art than a science. Before Elvie, hands-free, cordless breast pumping seemed more like a new parent’s dream rather than an easy reality with built-in app technology. These products do more than just make our lives easier; they allow us to take charge of our bodies in a way that’s never been offered before.
The proliferation of femtech brands are doing more than just marketing to women. They are actually creating products and brands that are by, for and about women and their needs. They’re speaking out against the silence and are no longer shamed by appealing directly to women in an honest, transparent way. This trend is changing the lives of women for the better and fueling the femtech industry’s rise and power.
They are driven by innovative products or services, using technology and science to create new solutions to age-old problems like periods, pumping and tracking fertility. They are challenging fear-based advertising with marketing and branding aimed at solving real problems by empowering their customers. For decades, products marketed to women have relied on fear, anxiety and perceptions of safety as primary motivators for people to buy. This has created a culture of management and shame that’s finally changing.
Like many brands, success has been found through challenging taboos, speaking openly about completely normal bodily functions like periods and bladder leaks and starting community-based conversations around these topics. For instance, our 2015 subway ads challenged taboos about talking about menstruation in public.
Femtech companies continue to break boundaries in the way they talk to their customers. When Dame, a female-founded sex toy company, had their ads rejected by the New York MTA, Dame sued saying the transit authority is infringing on its first amendment rights and for censoring its work while allowing male sex toys and libido products to advertise. Hims and Roman, two-male focused brands, also launched disruptive subway ads in the same year, but did not face the same pushback that femtech brands have.
Similarly, this authenticity in the femtech space continues to win over customers who are tired of being told by traditional brands that the best way to deal with their concerns is to conceal them.
These conversations are two-way streets. For a femtech brand to truly capture and grow its market share, it must listen to its customers and not rely solely on traditional market research. We’ve created a number of new products, sizes and styles based on direct customer feedback, and we heard from consumers because we have an active and open community both on and offline, along with active product ambassadors.
Consumers are also driven by their values, and those values align with the values of their customers. Study after study has confirmed that customers want brands to lead with their values and are more likely to buy a product if the brand aligns with their values. According to a study by Edelman, that trend is now so strong that nearly two-thirds of consumers will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue.
While this of course means featuring nontraditional models in ads and transparency, consumers are also demanding more sustainable, environmentally-friendly products and packaging. They want products that are ethically-sourced and contain fewer chemicals, and the larger femtech category—from apps, vitamins, beauty products and other reproductive health products—are emerging to meet these preferences.
With menstrual products constituting a fifth most common plastic product found in the oceans and more than 12 billion pads and tampons thrown out each year, the growing threats of climate change and pollution, it is a good thing that 97% of people are looking for more sustainable femtech and health options.
We all proudly welcome competition as to what’s the most sustainable period product. For companies rising in the femtech sector, competition fuels category awareness, opportunity and innovation—a win for all of us.
The key success of femtech companies isn’t just their technologies and innovations; it’s their ethos. The product is designed to improve the lives of your customers, so market for them, not just to them.