- Feminine care direct-to-consumer companies like Thinx, Top, and The Honey Pot are experiencing massive growth as consumers seek out alternatives to drugstore favorites like Tampax and Kotex that have disappeared off shelves.
- Thinx CEO Maria Molland said sales have increased by 40% compared to the same time last year, while purchases on Top’s Amazon store have tripled.
- “We’ve had a huge increase in sales,” Beatrice Dixon, founder of The Honey Pot told Business Insider. “When you go in the aisle at the store, all of the feminine care stuff is gone. Nobody has anything on the shelves right now, it’s crazy.”
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As runs on essential items continue to leave shelves barren of everything from toilet paper to tampons, direct-to-consumer feminine hygiene companies are experiencing massive spikes in sales.
The leaders of Thinx, Top, and The Honey Pot — three DTC brands that specialize in menstrual products — told Business Insider that business is booming for their respective companies as shoppers seek alternatives to drug store favorites like Tampax and Kotex that are disappearing off shelves.
These brands, along with peers like Divacup and Lola, have already been part of the recent crop of buzzy newcomers inciting a revolution in menstruation products. Now, amid a global pandemic, they’re finding themselves busier and more essential than ever.
“Periods don’t stop for pandemics,” Maria Molland, CEO of Thinx, told Business Insider.
Tripled Amazon sales and overwhelming online demand
According to Molland, sales at Thinx — best known for its menstrual underwear and evocative advertisements — are 40% higher than the same time last year. She said business has continued to grow week-over-week since shelter-in-place orders started going into effect around the nation.
“We are very lucky. Unlike a lot of businesses, the Thinx brands are essential products — people with periods and incontinence still need solutions — and we are a convenient solution,” she said. A Thinx spokesperson said that “a majority” of its customers in the past month have been new to the brand, and currently, new customers make up a larger portion of overall customers than is typical for the brand.
Molland said the growth has been aided by a nationwide push to limit public outings to places like grocery stores and pharmacies, which in turn has prompted some consumers to rethink their feminine products. Unlike most of its competitors, Thinx is a reusable product that can be washed and re-worn monthly, an increasingly appealing option for homebound Americans.
“[Thinx are] delivered to your door so you can stay home and not risk a run to the store,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about finding disposable products as stores are running low.”
DTC companies shilling disposable products are seeing a boom, too. Denielle Finkelstein — co-founder and president of Top, which sells organic, eco-friendly pads and tampons both online and in select retail locations — said sales on Amazon tripled in the early weeks of the outbreak. Further, customers of Top’s monthly subscription program have increased by 100%, according to a spokesperson.
The spike proved serendipitous, as it came on the heels of an indefinite delay of Top’s debut at retail partners as a result of the coronavirus. While Top products will likely appear in the stores down the road, Finkelstein said the delay prompted the company to shift its marketing budget exclusively to e-commerce, which ultimately proved fruitful.
“The first two weeks there was this hysteria like, ‘Oh my God, will I be able to get my feminine care products?’ and with this bump online we pushed our marketing dollars there,” she said. “We wanted to be where our customers are.”
While historically a majority of menstruating consumers purchase feminine care items in brick-and-mortar establishments, Top co-founder and CEO Thyme Sullivan said she foresees the pandemic will create long-term changes in the way shoppers buy feminine care products.
“Delivery and online is here to stay, and will be a much bigger piece moving forward,” she said. “In-store sales will still be the lion share, but we need to build our business model to adopt to the new e-commerce and home-based shopper.”
‘Nobody has anything on the shelves anymore’
A rapid increase in demand doesn’t come without its host of challenges, said Beatrice Dixon, CEO and founder of The Honey Pot Co. Delays in manufacturing and production are becoming standard not just in personal care, but also across the retail industry at large, as factories operate at lower outputs to account for illness and to accommodate social distancing protocols.
In March, Amazon fully sold out of major brands of tampons like Tampax, prompting anxious consumers to take to Twitter to share concerns about lack of access to feminine care. While these products were later part of a policy implemented by Amazon to prioritize essential items to increase availability, even now, some listings have limited supplies or are out of stock.
“We are maximizing production and distribution capacity where possible to ensure we can get products to as many consumers as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tampax, told Business Insider’s Julie Bort in March.
Though scarcity of Tampax and Kotex products have ultimately led shoppers to lesser-known brands like The Honey Pot, Dixon said increased demand has also contributed to longer lead times for her products.
“We’ve had a huge increase in sales,” Dixon said. “When you go in the aisle at the store, all of the feminine care stuff is gone. Nobody has anything on the shelves right now, it’s crazy.”
Still, businesses is booming and Dixon is grateful for that.
“Honestly, things are going pretty well for us, everything is moving in the right direction,” she said. “It’s extremely busy, and everybody on the team has got an enormous workload. We’re working to manage that and keep ourselves happy and focused and sane and calm in the process.”
Dixon, along with the leaders of Thinx and Top, has also been lucky to avoid having to resort to furloughs and layoffs that are ravaging other buzzy DTC brands like Away and Casper. Still, at Top, both Finkelstein and Sullivan — who described themselves as a “lean and mean team that do 90% of the work” — said they took salary cuts to keep business running smoothly.
The unprecedented experience of running a business during a pandemic is also shifting the way some of these companies think about work. Molland said the transition of employees working remotely full-time has prompted Thinx to reconsider office policies, including implementing a formal work-from-home offering.
“As with many other brands, we have learned that we can fully operate from home as a company,” she said. “Prior to the pandemic, we didn’t have a work-from-home policy for employees, but I’ve watched our team come together and bring out some of their best and most creative work. I expect we will have more work-from-home opportunities for the team.”