The first time I received a pad was in a small package in health class including a flowery smelling deodorant and a pamphlet on puberty. The boys received Old Spice. I thought their door prize smelled better, and dismissed the pad by adhering it to a guy friend's back, because I was eleven, and I wouldn't even need it for anything but amusement for another three years. Even when I did, I quickly realized that, just as ads promoted, pads felt "like a diaper." And the only people who should have to wear those are babies and senior citizens, or so I thought.
Enter incontinence. Or, as the feminine hygiene brand Kimberly-Clark, owners of Poise, likes to call it, "light bladder leakage." The brand's trying to dismiss the stigma of incontinence (it's not just for the elderly and infantile any more!), and publicizing the fact that 1 in 3 women experience light bladder leakage. Their strategy was effective: Fox News reports that "sales of Poise products have grown steadily over the past five years, with sales up 56 percent to $475.7 million in 2011." Now the brand is rolling out a new marketing strategy targeted at the 50 million women going through menopause.
The line includes lubricant for vaginal dryness, panty-freshener stickers, feminine wash for odor, and cooling towelettes and roll-on gel for women having hot flashes. Excuse me, "panty freshener stickers?" It seems as if they're trying to make these products edgy and fun, as if you'd don a new panty sticker for a fun night out. This isn't unusual for the brand that brought you "U by Kotex," the commercials infamous for mocking the feminine-hygiene industry for romanticizing the idea of a menstrual cycle. Could it be that this time they're doing just what they mocked, but for menopause?
Will the marketing strategy work? Only sales will tell, as the campaign and products roll out on July 23rd. Still, feminine washes and perfumes are not recommended by doctors. Products like "panty fresheners" that cover up vaginal odor could cause people to ignore what's causing that symptom in the first place, like failing to regularly wash with non-irritating soap. Will you be freshening your panties with stickers? Maybe not now, but if Poise gets its way, someday you just might.
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.