Hims and Hers.
Hims, a telemedicine startup that provides prescriptions and over-the-counter products that address men’s health issues like erectile dysfunction and hair loss–namely, concerns that you might be too nervous to bring up to a doctor in-person—has had a buzzy year, thanks in large part to its sleek marketing that features phallic-feeling images of cactuses. And now, it’s setting out to do the same thing for women.
Enter Hers, the newly launched brand from Hims that’s all about women’s health. The key issues the brand is launching with are sexual wellness, hair loss and skin care. The drugs Hers will offer for sexual wellness are birth control and Addyi, which treats hypoactive sexual desire disorder. For skincare, they’ll focus on those that help with acne and melasma.
“We’re a platform that provides women with the best education and medical solutions around mental and physical wellness,” is how Hilary Coles, Hers’ brand team lead, described Hers’ mission. “We believe that by building a judgment-free and efficient diagnosis process, and offering access to the most reliable products, we can help remove the barriers typically associated with prescription-based care.”
Hims launched last year, and despite the fact that its services and products are for men, the brand’s team is majority women, Coles said. Within weeks of Hims’ debut, it was clear that there was need for a female-focused counterpart that provided access to streamlined care.
Coming in with a knowledge of the telemedicine space was a major boost when crafting the Hers brand. “Now that we had learned more about telemedicine and what could be done via a platform like that, we were so excited to be able to create something, so we built a wellness company for women the way we would want it,” said Coles.
Of course, there are key differences between not only men and women’s health, but also how they’ve been taught to approach it. “For guys, it was about helping them to understand that it wasn’t weird to want to take care of yourself,” said Coles. “And when you look at the market for women, we’re just inundated as women about how we should be taking care of ourselves.”
With that thought in mind—that women are constantly being told what to do, what to take and how to approach their health—Hers wants to cut through the noise to provide, as Coles said, “access to the best products and make the most informed decisions about their well-being and be able to seek treatment in a judgment-free and reliable form.”
At its core, the brand is all about filling the gaps that exist for women in the health-care market today. Coles points to four primary holes that Hers hopes to fill. The first is helping to build trust between patient and provider to better educate women about their health. Hers also aims to provide ease of access, particularly for women who don’t live near a wide variety of health-care providers, and to make that care more affordable for women everywhere. The last is creating a platform and products that are female-first—designed by women, for women, said Coles.
To market the brand, Coles said the team is looking for ways to expand the conversation and alleviate the stigma around these health issues. And yes, like Hims, Hers is already marketing in the New York City subway.
The Hers team identified the issues they wanted to initially focus on through internal research and consulting with its medical advisory team. Like the health concerns Hims tries to tackle, these issues are all ones surrounded by stigma—even more so than hair loss for men. For example, Coles said that 40 percent of women will suffer from some form of hair loss before the age of 40, despite the fact that the issue doesn’t get much publicity. “We found that the 75 percent of women were extremely distressed by this loss, but the majority of those women never sought treatment,” said Coles. “We thought there has to be a better way to address this gap in education, and provide trusted, reputable products that can help here.”
For skincare, the approach is a little different: The amount of products that are out there are endless. Hers’ approach is to “cut through the inundation” to find what actually works, so women don’t have to sift through and try out countless products that may not work for them. And in regards to sexual wellness, increasing access to Addyi, the only FDA-approved medication that treats a low sex drive in women, is at top of Hers’ mission, as well as enabling women to be able to get a birth control prescription without the hassle of an in-person doctor’s visit.
But beyond the products, what Hers really offers women is the removal of many barriers traditionally associated with going to the doctor, such as high costs, limited appointment times and an uncomfortable atmosphere.
“When people go the telemedicine route, they can interact with their health-care system in a different way, essentially because they’re taking their care into their own hands, and [it] allows people to feel more comfortable,” said Coles. “We think that health care should be as easy as self care.”