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Building Trust As A Challenger Brand In Femcare & Mencare (RCD Ep6)

L-R clockwise. Leon Bailey-Green (editor, Upper Clash), Farah Kabir (co-founder, Hanx), Stelios Pardalakis (founder, Stellar Search), Claire Muir (commercial director, Seko Logistics), Adam Knight (co-founder, Tong Digital), Sarah Welsh (co-founder, Hanx), St.John Pearce-Burke (founder, TOTM), Will Kennedy (co-founder, Sons).

Building Trust As A Challenger Brand
In Femcare & Mencare

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In this episode we delve into building trust with consumers as challenger brands in the femcare and mencare space. Brands such as Hanx, Sons and TOTM are part of a new wave of emerging businesses challenging established brands and practices in wellness and health.

Sexual wellness brand Hanx, founded by Farah Kabir and Dr Sarah Welsh, targets women – who are thought to make 40% of all condom purchases. As well as building a direct-to-consumer community and sales channel, the brand is stocked by retailers including Boots and Superdrug. Growing the brand through online advertising has come with challenges, as Farah explained “Instagram and Facebook have banned over 100 pieces of our creative”, all because of the sexually related nature of the product.

Men’s hair loss treatment brand Sons is pushing consumers towards prevention over cure with regards to male pattern baldness. The brand blurs the line between retail and service, offering tailored subscription based product deliveries with medical support. It’s relatively early days for the brand, which launched early 2020, after being conceived two years earlier. Of working with micro influencers founder Will Kennedy say “that has worked very well for us.”

Organic period care brand TOTM is one of many challenger brands taking on the mainstream feminine care product players. Founder St.John Pearce-Burke explains his early move into the category saying “When we started doing this there was nobody else in the space in the US, UK or Europe.” The brand has established a footprint across retail with stockists including Superdrug, Tesco, Ocado and Urban Outfitters, as well as it’s own direct-to-consumer channel. A recent crowdfund saw the business raise £800,000 over its £500,000 target.

Farah, Sarah, Will and St.John were joined by Stelios Pardalakis, Claire Muir and Adam Knight for this discussion hosted by Upper Clash director and editor Leon Bailey-Green.

As consumers increasingly search Google and YouTube with health related questions, Stelios, from marketing agency Stellar Search, offered tips for content creation and ranking.

With sustainability being a bigger consideration for challenger brands Claire Muir, from Seko Logistics, revealed the eco friendly packaging material brands are increasingly opting for.

The market for feminine hygiene products is growing in China, according to Adam Knight at China market experts Tong Digital, but for femcare brands the region has its many challenges.


Embracing competition in consumer health retail1 Minute 44 Seconds.

With 40% of condoms purchased by women, Farah says her business – sexual wellness brand Hanx, aimed at the female customer – has been able to challenge established brands on the market. St.John thinks there’s plenty of room in the organic, sustainable period product market for multiple players and having first mover advantage puts his brand, TOTM, in good stead. Will says success in the US, in the mencare category, has created more players in the UK. Sarah thinks transparency helps Hanx compete with traditional brands.

Understanding global consumer differences (US and China)1 Minute 40 Seconds.

Sarah explains that whilst direct-to-consumer is more popular in US, in the UK it’s important for a brand like Hanx to – additionally – be available in traditional stores. Will says the success of brands such as Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club in the US helped seed investors see the opportunity for his men’s hair loss treatment brand Sons. Adam, from China market specialist Tong, reveals 2% of the female population in China use tampons – compared to upwards of 70% in Europe – but the market is growing rapidly, especially for foreign brands.

Using medical experts to build trust2 Minutes 14 Seconds.

Will talks about Dr Knut Moe – medical director for his men’s hair loss treatment brand Sons – being front and centre of content plans. Marketing agency founder Stelios explains that Google wants to see health related content written by an expert, and offers advice on providing such signals. Farah says press which features her Hanx co-founder Sarah as a doctor work well for the brand. Stelios encourages brands to create content which answers medical questions that consumers are increasingly searching for.

TV, Influencer and PR campaigns1 Minute 58 Seconds.

Will explains the ‘hit and miss’ nature of working with influencers to drive sales to his men’s hair loss treatment brand Sons. He also discusses the brand’s experiences with TV advertising. Farah is frustrated by the restrictions Instagram and Facebook place on advertising her condom brand Hanx. Stelios, founder of marketing agency Stellar Search, says consumers are increasingly searching YouTube to find out more about emerging brands they are interested in.

Evaluating the use of paper, plastics and bio-plastics1 Minute 41 Seconds.

When it comes to sustainable packaging for brands and e-commerce, Claire, from warehousing company Seko Logistics, explains the paper over plastic mantra isn’t as straightforward as it seems. She offers insight into up-and-coming eco-friendly packaging solutions; especially relevant for emerging and challenger brands. TOTM founder St.John is concerned by the impact of ‘greenwashing’ by newer entrants to the market, taking aim at those marketing products as ‘plant based’ or ‘bioplastic’. He thinks the confusion may harm trust in the wider period product category.

The Long Edit – 23 Minutes 41 Seconds.

In this episode we delve into building trust with consumers as challenger brands in the femcare and mencare space.