Until recently, conversations about menstruation were considered taboo. The curse brought on women by Eve’s poor judgement in the Garden of Eden, having your period was something that happened, but wasn’t supposed to be discussed. While each religion has its own viewpoints on menstruation, many view the ‘moon time’ as when women are unclean, unholy or otherwise not fit for their usual daily activities.
When Thinx period panties launched in 2015 they opened the floodgates so to speak about periods and what it really means to be an advocate for women’s health. Billboards announcing that Thinx were ‘Underwear for Women with Periods’ were rejected by Outfront Media who manages the advertising throughout New York City’s Subway System. The outrage provoked from the outright rejection of the campaign has since spurred a movement that continues today.
In a 2019 interview with Parade Magazine, Thinx Founder Miki Agrawal talks about how she focused on building products that disrupt the taboo culture. “Whenever people introduce a new innovative product or a new culture-shifting idea, they’re often too academic or too clinical or too technical or too descriptive with their language and it just makes people be like, “Huh? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The way we think about and talk about all our products is just as if we’re texting our best friend. If you think about the way you text your friends about something, it’s very different from the way you write ad copy. That’s the most authentic, that’s the most real.”
With Thinx, Agrawal did just that. Early stage marketing focused on driving referrals through word of mouth marketing and crafting creative email campaigns that customers were more likely to share with friends. The weekly ‘periodical’ focused on topics that matter to women, not just hawking the product.
Each week subscribers would look forward to news about the latest trends in feminism, what women were moving and shaking, who was legislating for their rights and more. As new lines of period panties were released this already engaged and active audience was more likely to open a message announcing a new product without feeling like they were being solicited.
By creating a product that really does what it says it’s supposed to, replacing the regular use and purchase of tampons and pads, Thinx used word of mouth marketing to create natural advocate for their period panties brand. Customers who convinced friends to try out the period panties received a $10 bounty for spreading the word.
This created a two fold movement.
- Active Audience through Email Marketing: The Thinx email is more than just a sales tool. Using email marketing to talk about women’s issues, specifically the ones that are considered taboo like women’s health, menstruation and heaven forbid using the phrase ‘period blood’ puts important issues in front of an engaged database everyday. Seeing messages about taboo topics in their inbox makes people more likely to engage in conversations about taboo topics in their community.
- Rewarding Conversations about Taboo Topics: Literally giving $10 to women who are willing to talk about their period in public breaks down barriers that have been standing for decades. Talking about a taboo topic in turn removes the stigma of the taboo. It’s a formula that sounds overly basic, but ultimately it’s not.
In the five years since Thinx hit the shelves the company itself has had its ups and downs, including the hiring of a new CEO and completely overhauled HR practices, but ultimately their core mission has remained strong – changing the conversations women have about their health, and periods. Today Thinx is the fastest-growing women-led company on the 2018 Inc. 5000 with $39.6M in 2017 revenue.
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The core of their business remains innovating period health, regularly releasing new colors and styles of panties. More recently they’ve launched a new brand, Icon, intended to assist with incontinence.
Together these brands allow Thinx to be a central part of life for their customers, growing from the time you have your first period to post-baby and beyond. As millennial mothers age and their daughters begin to ‘enter womanhood’ the dialogue that was created in the last several years will continue. This is how culture changes.
How Period Panties Work
Thinx replaces pads and tampons completely. With various styles designed for different amounts of flow (½ tampon to 2 tampons) it is easy to comfortably wear Thinx all day during your period. At the end of the day rinse out your Thinx immediately after use and place in the cold wash on laundry day. Thinx should be hung up to dry.
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