The changing attitudes of women towards healthcare services has even reached the marketing strategies of major brands – particularly in the femtech industry.
Although not a new phenomenon, we have recently seen a resurgence in the idea of the ‘medicalisation of women’s health’ being called into question, primarily amongst feminist groups.5 This refers to the treatment of natural processes such as menstruation or menopause as ‘medical problems’ that require a solution.
In 2022, this is materialising as a shift in marketing where products that would be previously seen as medical are now being marketed as ‘lifestyle and wellbeing products’. An example of this ‘demedicalisation’ of women’s health can be seen in the way that the Natural Cycles brand market their digital contraceptive devices, with emphasis on the ‘no hormones’ benefit and taglines like ‘Skip the pharmacy, no prescription needed’.6
This approach to marketing is proving successful too. Femtech brand Elvie made a big impact in the industry with their pelvic floor 7 training device. In a notable departure from existing, clinical looking devices, the Elvie trainer is packaged like a luxury tech product and incorporates features like gamification to encourage women to make pelvic floor exercises a part of their daily routine. The device was a massive success, revolutionising compliance for pelvic floor exercises compared to it’s predecessors and is now even used by the NHS.7-12
Elvie have also gained a great deal of attention recently with their latest #LeaksHappen marketing campaign that aims to break the taboos surrounding urinary incontinence.
Their giant ‘peeing’ billboard is shining a spotlight on a very common health issue for women after social media platform censorship. The aim of this is to encourage women to speak out and take action to solve the problem.
Elvie as a company is a great example of a brand trying to build a rapport with women, aiming to make difficult topics easier to talk about – which is a contrast to the opinions we are seeing on primary care.