What can women’s health brands teach us all about serving the consumer?

Words by Ruby Gurdon
Date 2024-06-19

For centuries, women’s health was a neglected topic in the medical field.


Bluntly, because the field was one dominated by men. As the popular book Invisible Women by Criado Perez calls out, medicine wasn’t the only place where women’s needs were, at best, a second thought, at worst — not a thought at all. In the book, Perez calls out the shocking lack of female-centric data that drives some of the biggest decisions about our health, but also our workplaces, our safety and even the size of our phones.

Beyond the book, the data in this space is terrifying. Women are less likely to die or be readmitted to hospital if treated by a female doctor, less than 4% of healthcare research and innovation is invested in female-specific conditions, and women’s health conditions take on average 2.5 years longer to get diagnosed than those of their male counterparts.

But a change is afoot. A change that is demonstrating the power of female innovation and investment. And also the magic that can be achieved when a product is created by the people it is meant to serve. Closing the gap between women’s and men’s health presents a $1 trillion opportunity to improve lives and economic opportunities. And it’s women at the forefront of driving this change, creating disruptive brands in the category that are changing the way we all think about women’s health.

The innovation and creativity on show in the women’s health sector is a masterclass for all industries to consider if the aim is to provide a service that both actually benefits the consumers and is something desirable to incorporate into their lives.

Women’s health at a glance

There is now a groundswell of women’s health brands seeking to offer a solution to every possible health challenge a woman might face throughout her life. From menstruation to menopause, and from pleasure to personal care.

The entrepreneurial spirit throughout the sector is driven by a desire to address problems that the founders have more often than not faced themselves — largely with insufficient support, and sometimes encouraged to do so in relative silence.

This means the products are designed from a personal perspective, and intimate connection with the challenge it proposes to solve. This drives two important factors of the products in the category.

Firstly, the creative and physical design is empathetically created with a deep understanding of what, aesthetically, the target consumer is likely to use. UK-based skincare and wellness brand Naydaya was founded to “empower women to escape the trappings of taboo” and creates skincare-cued aesthetically beautiful products for anything from stretch marks to breast care.

And the product creation process is grounded in data. Women want to better understand their bodies and how they change throughout the month and throughout their lives; especially as this is information that, for a long time, was out of reach. Hormone and fertility brand, ‘Hertility’ delivers individual hormone and fertility assessments with a simple at-home screening kit that helps women better understand the impact of their hormones on their reproductive health. Whilst French brand ‘MiYé’ creates products based on the “ecology of the female body from puberty to menopause”.

These two factors are also a response to the limitations of the category before women gained a seat at the top table. That being products created by men, on flimsy scientific understanding, no personal engagement and little appreciation for the sort of design that women might connect with.

Building brands for every body

Through leaning into personal experience and layering this with deepening scientific understanding, the women’s health category is becoming a leading sector for delivering genuinely inclusive products.

This philosophy strikes through previous norms in the women’s health category to visually represent women as one type. Rather, through the creative coming from a personal understanding of one’s own lived experience, an appreciation for the unique and variable experiences within women’s health inspires brand narratives. This means individuality and difference is not only accommodated but celebrated in brand visuals. This also allows the brands to speak to their consumers using a language that they can build genuine connections with.

And this approach has enormous influence over the whole category; not just the disruptor brands but those with long established histories in the health sector more generally. We’re seeing brands incorporate more inclusive representation in their brand storytelling and begin to deliver products that cater to a range of female-specific health issues. A great example of this is Canesten’s ‘Vagina Academy’ which aims to educate people at scale about vulval and vaginal anatomy and health.

A total consumer obsession

The essence to the power in the brands currently dominating the women’s health category is their total obsession with the consumer it serves. Every element of the brand - from product through to marketing - is enthusiastically geared towards benefitting and connecting with the consumer.

This is the biggest lesson brands from other categories can take from the women’s health category. To build a brand that matters to the audience it’s targeting, it must hone in on the needs of that audience. The most straightforward way to do this? Speak to that audience, better yet, bring them into the creation process. Top that? Make sure the people with the power over the creation of products and architecture of the brand are able to personally and intimately connect with the demographic it intends to serve.

Arguably, the biggest strength to the brands emerging in the women’s health category is that they’re born from a need-state. This drives enthusiastic leaders in the category responding to decades of, at best, a feeling of misunderstanding and at worst the sense of neglect which fuels a desire to fight against it. This drives dynamic brands that are passionate about correcting the wrongs of yesteryear. But this ethos - passionately focusing on the needs of the consumer - can be extrapolated to other categories in order to create brands that move people, and drive meaningful engagement.