FemTech, a term coined by Ida Tin, refers to software, diagnostics, products and services that use technology to support women’s health (Forbes). Although only $400 million was invested in the space 2018, the next few years are expected to be BIG years for the FemTech industry. As this market has been largely neglected, the opportunities for research, development, and innovation are huge, and the FemTech space is projected to become a $50 billion industry by 2025 (PR Newswire).
One of the characteristics of the FemTech space is that companies are targeting consumers directly. The health system and VCs are moving too slowly (only 4% of investments related to health are women related) and females are taking their health into their own hands. According to Frost & Sullivan, 90% of women are the primary health decision makers in the home and they are 75% more likely to use digital health tools. As holders of more than 20% of the world’s wealth (Forbes), the FemTech market is looking towards women to find out about new services/products online (potentially through more consumer facing companies as opposed to health companies) and bring about the rise and development of more female-centered products.
This DTC (direct-to-consumer) approach is leading to very cool marketing techniques by companies and organizations in or promoting the FemTech space. Leading FemTech companies have cool Instagram accounts, active Twitter accounts, YouTube channels, podcast channels, and are even including customers in their user testing. A few interesting examples below:
Dame Products, a female-founded company that creates well-researched sex toys designed for women by women has taken user testing and product development DTC. They have created Dame Labs, where any person with a vulva can sign up and participate in their people-centered research. People sign up and receive surveys (sometimes only for select groups) and during the prototype testing phase they select members based on their research needs and make sure they have a demographically balanced tester population. More than 6,000 have contributed to their product development process (with over 400 prototype testers)!
Clue, a menstrual health app with over 11 million users in 180 counties is one of the leaders in the FemTech space. Clue has over 18,000 twitter followers and tweets and retweets all day. Clue not only retweets about women’s health related research and menstruation but they create quality and insightful content on their blog (they have over 2 million monthly website readers!) They create video content that can be viewed on their YouTube channel and blog. More than 64,000 women across the world took the global survey this tweet below discusses! One of Clue's goals is to promote research in women's health and even this simple survey demonstrates how much interest and initiative women have in contributing and promoting research on women's wants and needs.
Laureen HD found that as a young woman living with HSV (genital herpes) there was no adequate information online discussing the questions and struggles she was facing. She created a YouTube channel where she talks openly about herpes, answering people's questions and discussing treatments and how to cope emotionally, date and have sex post-their or their partner's diagnosis. Her video "How to Tell a Potential Partner That You Have Genital Herpes" has over 75 thousand views (other videos have more than 200,000 views), and the wide popularity of her channel demonstrates that although medical teams are not adequately providing people tools to deal with diagnosis, women and men are searching the web and looking for this information.
Genneve, a startup that runs the first telemedicine service for women experiencing menopause has a monthly podcast where their CEO, Jill Angelo, discusses all aspects of menopause. Genneve just announced a $4 Million investment and hopes to launch in all 50 states by the end of 2020. Although 1 billion women will be in menopause in 2020 the knowledge about menopause is basically nonexistent. The Genneve podcast allows this large female population to listen to content curated especially for them. There are a few podcasts that concentrate (mostly) on women-related health, including Under the Hood and Femtastic Podcast, but Genneve is one of the first companies in the space to create their own audio content.
Instagram is one of the forefronts of digital marketing for FemTech. Tia Clinic, a modern women’s health clinic designed by women for women has a beautiful Instagram account. They upload beautifully designed inspirational and informational quotes. Ohnut, a Kickstarter funded wearable that allows women experiencing pain during penetration to explore comfortable depths, tends to upload fun and inspirational photos such as this one below:
Dame, the creators of the first reusable tampon applicator, upload beautiful “lifestyle” photos, and like Ohnut they rarely showcase their product. Cora, an upscale organic tampon company (with no less than 99,900 followers), uploads mostly relaxing and beautiful water photos such as this one:
These are just a few examples, but hundreds of thousands of women are engaging and following these brands on Instagram, thirsty for their products and message.
The FemTech market is just starting to develop, but it’s clear the unique DTC nature of this industry provides an interesting challenge for digital marketing techniques. From YouTube to Instagram to podcasts to user testing, women are looking for these products and services and these digital routes provide them much needed access to information and communities. Without a doubt these consumer oriented marketing techniques will help promote awareness among women (and men) and hopefully increase the demand across the world for more investment and research for female-centered health solutions, products and services.