Globally, Feminine hygiene market is expected to reach over $36 billion (approx. Rs. 2.40 lakh crore) in the next six years, with India comprising of only 1.5% of this market. A survey reveals that 80 percent of feminine hygiene products sold are sanitary napkins. While the market has been dominated by disposable sanitary napkin sales, there is an increasing trend of use of products like tampons, menstrual cups, period pain relief roll on which is a good sign in respect to positive healthcare for women. Understanding the importance and criticality of feminine hygiene, more and more companies are coming with new and innovative products. All these factors can significantly contribute to growth of the industry and lead to more adoption of women hygiene products through educational, awareness and marketing efforts. So far, brands such as Whisper, Carefree amongst others hold the largest market share. However, this place has been started populated by many unique start-ups which boast be better than any leading brand in terms of their product offerings. Let’s hear from them..
Started by Delhi based entrepreneur, Deepanjali Kanoria Heyday is an eco friendly brand which hopes to revolutionize the sanitary napkin segment. Kanoria was
working as a financial consultant at Ernst & Young in New York when it dawned upon her that she had the scope of influencing positive impact beyond the conference room at a client site.
“The idea of finding sustainable solutions to everyday problems always fascinated me and being educated at all-women's institutions, I was more inclined to helping women overcome problems they faced in their everyday lives through the means of innovation. Upon returning to New Delhi and researching about various industries, I found that the Indian sanitary napkin industry was highly monopolised and hadn't seen innovation in the past decade,” informed Deepanjali.
The materials used in the commercially sold conventional sanitary napkins were all synthetic and pose a threat to the body and the environment relentlessly. Creating a prototype with all natural elements was an exciting challenge.
“We did not use any synthetic raw materials and steered away from cotton too as it utilises 26% of the world's pesticide content which is very steep and again harmful. We zeroed down on bamboo and corn fibre used in seven super absorbent layers of our patented fibre to produce an end product with a soft and smooth finish that was tested to be completely biodegradable and organic,”.
Highlighting the initial hiccups, she said “We faced numerous challenges in terms of product placement as retailers were not sure if a new product would sell but we overcame that issue with time as more retailers believed in our product proposition and saw the off-take value.”
Being a startup, the company had little funds that could spend on marketing. Hence, as the part of strategy the company constantly tried to reach more women to choose this affordable sustainable menstruation option. Today, Heyday products are available on all leading markertplaces and modern traders including Spencer's, Godrej Nature's Basket, Guardian Pharmacy, Health & Glow, Le Marche, Modern Bazaar amongst others.
Started by Harry Sehrawat, Sanfe was started from the realization of the fact that more than 50 percent of women have to suffer from UTI caused by dirty public washrooms. Though the company does not make sanitary napkins as of now, but offer gamut of products catered to female hygiene especially in those days.
Speaking further, Sehrawat said, “The problem was unidentified to us till one of our friends got infected with UTI during a mountain trip. The urge and motivation to solve the problem led us to our entrepreneur journey and the development of our first product. This led us to think more about the issues around feminine hygiene and the taboo surrounding it. It motivated us to innovate more solutions which can help women live a quality life.”
The company has received funds from HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) at an initial stage of our start-up. This has supported them in their research, innovation and product development. The start-up is also planning to raise another round of funding for product portfolio expansion and international expansion. As of now, the company is retailing via retail platforms such as Apollo, LeMarche along with all leading market places and its exclusive webstore.
Started by Vikas Bagaria, Pee Safe was earlier known for selling Toilet Seat Sanitizer Spray has recently made its foray into India’s fastest growing sanitary products segment (expected to reach a value of US$ 992.8 Million by 2024 as per IMARC Group) with 100% organic cotton, biodegradable sanitary pads. The brand has witnessed an unprecedented growth of 200% in FY18. Pee Safe has already raised $2 million from a group of investors and aims to become a 1000 crore brand within five years. Pee Safe currently owns more than 90% of the market in the Toilet Seat Sanitizer Category.
Started in 2017, the company has raised $2M already. The company aims to set its niche in offering biodegradable sanitary pads in pocket friendly prices. Speaking on same, Bagaria said, “At the moment, the manufacturing cost of organic cotton and biodegradable pads is much greater than manufacturing plastic ones. Our target audience is people who care for their bodies and the environment and the pads are priced accordingly at Rs. 299 for a pack of 10 wrapped individually in disposable bags.”Peesafe products are currently present at 3000 offline stores pan India including modern trade, general stores, pharmacies etc. along with leading marketplaces.
The Other Players
There are many other brands which are engaged in making, low-cost, biodegradable sanitary napkin brands, primarily catered to rural women.
Saathi pads in Gujarat:
Saathi began in 2015, when its four co-founders Kristin Kagetsu, Tarun Bothra, Amrita Saigal, and Grace Kane - graduates of MIT, Harvard and Nirma University - came together on a mission to create fully eco-friendly, compostable sanitary napkins using locally sourced banana fiber from the state of Gujarat, where Saathi is based.
Sakhi by Vatsalya Foundation:
Spearheadeded by Swati Bedekar, Vatsalya Foundation started making low cost biodegradable sanitary napkins after realizing that the village women would use a leaf with mud which was tied around their waist. Synthetic cloth pieces, or any cloth pieces which were not even clean, were used. Bedekar developed started manufacturing unit with the initial help from government’s tribal department.