Why it matters:
- The global period-panties market is expected to generate $279.3 million by 2026.
- In the U.S. market, a heightened investment in feminine hygiene and healthcare has fueled a significant increase in sales of period panties.
- Capitalizing on that growth, DTC brand Thinx, which helped pioneer the period-absorbing underwear category, is expanding its brand with distribution at retailers such as Target and CVS.
It’s been a big year for period- and leak-proof underwear brand Thinx. In addition to a surge in e-commerce sales, the once exclusively direct-to-consumer brand has also landed on the shelves of major retailers like Target and CVS with a new “Thinx for All” sub-brand dedicated to price and size accessibility.
In 2020, the company grew nearly 50% and ended the year with $80 million in sales. So far, projections forecast Thinx to close out 2021 at $100 million.
“We believe some of this growth can be attributed to COVID accelerating online adoptions and consumers willing to try new products from the safety of their couch,” CEO Maria Molland told CO— in an interview. What’s encouraging them to try, however, is a strategic consumer education campaign on its period-absorbing underwear that Thinx has been steadily building for years.
“We were able to attract new customers and now people have realized our product works,” Molland said.
A commitment to inclusivity and accessibility at the core of the business
The U.S. consumer landscape is at an inflection point for many brands across categories, and consumers increasingly expect brands and marketing to be inclusive regarding factors from race and ethnicity, age, gender identity and sexual orientation to physical ability, body type and more.
For one, Thinx avoids euphemisms like “feminine hygiene” to describe menstruation, instead simply saying in its tagline, “We are Thinx: for people with periods.”
The global period panties industry is expected to generate $279.3 million by 2026, according to a report from Future Market Insights.
Recognizing the power of its platform to speak to all types of people, Thinx has committed to increasing accessibility and inclusivity at the product design, retail and marketing levels.
Part of the brand’s success, Molland says, lies in an ongoing willingness to start uncomfortable conversations and help consumers embrace conditions that may have once felt stigmatized, such as heavy periods or postpartum incontinence. Last year, Molland and her team launched Thinx for All, a new diffusion line available at a more accessible $17 price point (compared to its $39 classic pair) and stocked in the places people are already shopping for period and bladder care products.
This month, Thinx relaunched its plus-size collection, which was redesigned to deliver a better fit for more body types in response to customer feedback claiming its extended sizes did not offer the same protection as its straight-size product did.
“Our community has been asking for more accessible price points and sizing, and we listened,” Molland said. “Last year our focus was on product education, and now is the time to offer the same quality and function and make it available at a lower price point and offer more size options for our customers.”
[Read here on building an inclusive business.]
How Thinx is leveraging the power of a retailer like Target
With the “Thinx for All” strategy, Molland hopes the company can appeal to even more potential customers who have heard about the brand and its innovation and are looking for an accessible way to try it.
According to Molland, an estimated 95% of consumers purchase their period care products in physical stores. That means many of them may never have heard of Thinx and may not yet be familiar with the concept of period underwear whatsoever.
Like many DTC brands in similar categories before it, Thinx has pursued strategic wholesale partnerships with national retailers in order to reach that cohort of in-store shoppers where they already are.
Thus far, Thinx for All’s mass retail partners include Target, CVS and Urban Outfitters, all of which have embraced smaller independent brands as a means to expand their own audiences. “They are increasingly nimble and will work with creative solutions in store,” Molland said of her major retail partners.
Coming off the success of 2020, the brand is well prepared to face the future
The global period panties industry is expected to generate $279.3 million by 2026, according to a report from Future Market Insights. In the U.S. market, a heightened investment in feminine hygiene and healthcare has fueled a significant increase in sales of period panties, the report found. Though the period underwear category has gotten more crowded, Thinx continues to dominate in the category it effectively pioneered, according to Molland, who says Thinx holds 70% market share in the U.S. and 40% globally.
[Read here on calculating the potential market demand for a product or service.]
A spirit of innovation and dedication to listening to its customers keeps Thinx ahead of the curve, she says.
Earlier this year, Thinx capitalized on the growth of athleisure with an expansion into leak-proof performance activewear. Since then, major sports brands like Adidas have entered the period-proof athleisure market as well, signaling that there may be future growth opportunities in the category.
“We are always exploring potential extensions for our products and different ways we can integrate our signature, innovative technology for the ultimate period protection,” Molland said. “Now that we have found a product/market fit, we are now focused on scaling our business across the globe.”
CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.
Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners’ stories.
How the buzziest brands and hottest startups are solving today’s biggest business challenges. CO— brings you advice from startup founders and top executives for thriving in a new world. Check out the latest CO— Exclusives here.
Event Recap: Scaling a Business
Watch the replay from our latest Roadmap for Rebuilding event, where the panel discusses ways to expand your customer base into new markets and use technology to grow.
Published July 27, 2021