This is not your mother’s menopause. While previous generations of women suffered in silence, there’s been growing interest in treating the symptoms of menopause, which can range from insomnia and changes in the skin to vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Wellness brands are rushing in to take advantage of the demand, with venture capital finding its way into the category.
“The conversations are opening up,” said Sally Mueller, co-founder of Womaness, a website devoted to menopause solutions. “Women are starting to be more comfortable talking about it. We’ve seen this with our brand. As soon as you start talking about it, they want to talk about it more and be connected with experts. They’re hungry for information. That’s why there’s the money out there going toward Telehealth services as well as other forms of providing expertise and information to consumers.”
Part of the reason for all the activity is the women now experiencing menopause “are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation to date, and they’ve been really underserved until now,” said Mueller, who estimated that there are about 50 million women in the cohort. “There’s a lot of innovation happening in women’s health, not just for women who are going through menopause. There’s activity in women’s health overall. The reason why investors are interested in this is because of the convergence of women’s health being a hot category and this demographic being so attractive—if you can unlock it. There isn’t a playbook for reaching this woman.”
According to a study by GWI, the wellness economy is expected to grow 60% in the next five years to $7 trillion. While menopause is still in its infancy, it’s expected to expand greatly. “Menopause and other women’s health markets are attractive in that they should be big markets,” said the managing director of a private equity firm that invests in beauty and haircare brands, but has yet to invest in menopause products and education. “Today they are still under-resourced and under-sized relative to their true potential. We love investing in businesses with tailwinds, and I’d be shocked if five years from now the women’s health market isn’t significantly bigger than it is today.”
Womaness plans to grab a chunk of that spending. The e-commerce site raised funds last year, and recently completed a seed round to bring its total capital raise to over $5 million. The company offers a full suite of products—13 items—for changing skin, supplements, sexual wellness, and personal care items.
“We’re accessibly priced and that really differentiates us from our competitors,” said Mueller, a former executive at Target, whose co-founder, Michelle Jacobs, was the editor of Real Simple and other publications. The brand is also sold at the mass retailer. “We chose to go into retail right away and many of our competitors are only doing e-commerce. We’ve only been around since March and we’re definitely doubling in size next year.”
Stacy London, the former co-host of What Not to Wear, a makeover show on TLC, attacks menopause with humor and with products on her e-commerce site, stateofmenopause.com. “It would be so useful to know things before they happen like: flossing is good for you, having 3 cats is way more than 2, Santa does not exist, and algebra is entirely useless,” she says on State Of. “Around the age of 47, my body started to ache. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t remember words like pencil or orange. I’d cry constantly. My skin (and nether regions) dried up like the Sahara. I was always itchy. I suddenly had cystic acne and gray chin hair. I was anxious and grumpy.”
London offers private-label products, including rejuvenating face oil and skin hair and nail supplements, and bundles such as The Hydration Edit, extreme hydration for menopausal skin, and The Body Edit, which provides the sensation of hot-flash relief with products to cool skin down.
Saks Fifth Avenue launched a Wellness Shop earlier this month with products such as Hot Flash patches, a four-piece set that treats menopause’s everyday ailments with 15mg of premium Hemp Extract, Black Cohosh, and other key ingredients.
Nicole Winnaman and Abra Potkin, founders of NOW/With, a platform that combines the heady element of celebrities with product recommendations and social commerce, touts a product line called Pause, which tackles the changing complexions of women going through menopause, including a mist to squirt on your face to quell hot flashes.
US department stores are also getting into the act. Bloomingdale’s launched a sexual wellness offering online last May, harnessing the opportunity to provide a curation of elevated essentials. Elizabeth Miller, Vice President and Divisional Merchandise Manager for Cosmetics, said that over the last couple of years it’s become even more important to consider every aspect of well-being, including mental wellness, intimacy, and self-love. “The pandemic certainly intensified our customers’ needs for these products at home. Fortunately, there’s a lot of innovation.”
Bloomingdale’s is working with brands that are female-led or -founded, body positive, and balance innovation with self-love. The retailer will add postpartum and menopausal products “as women seek wellness solution throughout all life changes. We want to support their evolving needs,” Miller said.
Tatiana Birkelund, Vice President and General Business Manager of beauty and jewelry at Neiman Marcus, said the retailer sells everything from ingestibles to home fragrance to CBD products, and more. “I find that every time I turn around there’s a new subcategory to wellness,” she said. “It’s even permeated categories outside of beauty.”
“What’s really exciting is that we have permission to talk about menopause and we feel more comfortable talking about it,” Birkelund said. “There are so many different ways to go about wellness that the dialogue is very interesting. It’s not something we have on the shelves quite yet, but the overall opportunity to talk about it in an open forum will certainly help guide us in what the consumer deems as important. I have young daughters, we’re a little soon to be talking about menopause, but there’s certainly more of a forum for us to talk about it and for them to be empowered to ask questions.”
There's even more open discussion and activity around menopause in the UK. “It’s not just a US thing. Menopause affects every woman in the world,” Mueller said. “The UK is definitely at the front of the race. They’re more advanced, there’s legislation around menopause and so many people are starting businesses around menopause. There’s more awareness around this subject.”
Closer to home, sites such as Womaness and State Of are trying to change the perception of a woman in menopause and they’re charting their own course. Interest among luxury department stores also bodes well for the category. All the interest is redefining what a woman in menopause can accomplish. “It doesn’t mean that she’s old,” Mueller said.
“We don’t have to take the same path that our mothers took,” Neiman’s Birkelund said. “We don’t have to suffer in silence, whether it’s the footwear we wear or the changes of life.”
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