According to Flipkart, the number of women experimenting with alternatives such as tampons and menstrual cups – rather than just pads – are growing because of the anonymity offered by online shopping.
Sales of sanitary pads account for 80% of Walmart’s retail sales as well as private care products such as sanitary oils, gels, urination devices, and menstrual cups.
According to Flipkart officials, the online shopping platform offers consumers a wide variety of products and catchy promotions (such as “free shipping” offers) to encourage women to experiment with women’s products.
According to sales data, Flipkart sees primary towns and cities leading the growth in demand for tampons and menstrual cups.
The top 10 cities for tampons and menstrual cups include:
- Kolkata (Calcutta)
- New Delhi
- Ambarra (Haryana)
- West Bengal.
The popularity of these products is also now spreading to smaller towns.
Flipkart claims that sales of women’s hygiene products increased fivefold between April and June, driven by demand in second – and third-tier cities.
Nearly 100m of India’s 300m to 400m middle class now live in second – and third-tier cities. Many women in these places can’t go to physical stores to buy hygiene products, so they turn to online shopping.
With the increasing awareness about women’s health and hygiene concerns, the government has taken some measures to improve its conditions. Bollywood films such as “the Indian Partner” are also pushing women’s hygiene products in small towns.
Visionaari, a Delhi-based tampon maker, claims that about 50% of its orders are now coming from second – and third-tier cities. Gauri Singhal, the founder of Visionaari, said: “With shopping at the click of a button and easy home delivery, it is attractive in places like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.”
This market segment is promising due to the demand for such small towns.
Estimates suggest that while the share of women’s hygiene products in India’s overall online retail market is still in the low single digits, it is nevertheless growing.
According to data presented by Euromonitor, a market research firm, Visionaari’s sales could rise from $340 million (2017) to $522 million by 2020.
States that lead the demand for health products for women are Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Aside from Visionaari, the popularity of these devices has spawned startups such as Carmesi, Nua, Heyday, and Azah. They are keen to tap into the potential of millennial girls and working women who are looking for differentiated products and are willing to give them a try.
PeeBuddy founder Deep Bajaj said well-known sanitary towel brands such as Whisper and Stayfree have done a good job of spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene.
Deep Bajaj adds: “Today, however, the market is shifting to offering convenient, personalized products. If a woman has polycystic ovary disease, menstrual cups are her best bet, not sanitary pads.”
Flipkart also claims to have seen an increase in demand for environmentally friendly products in women’s hygiene. In addition to cost-effectiveness, waste reduction is one of the main reasons why more and more people are using products such as menstrual cups and reusable cloth MATS.