Ultra Violet Agency, the first communications and marketing agency for femtech brands, has launched its trend forecasting agency branch, Ultra Violet Futures. The company was founded by Anna Butterworth and Rhiannon Jones, who connected on Clubhouse over their mutual acknowledgement of the gap in future consulting for the category. Jones’ intuitive trend forecasting abilities have been harnessed by leading global brands such as Mattel and Philips, while Butterworth has been a proponent of femtech from its very onset. She started her journey at Elvie, makers of the first-ever silent wearable electric breast pump, later establishing Ultra Violet Agency in 2018, working with pioneering brands like Thinx and Mooncup, to name a few.
While helping to launch Elvie globally, which recently obtained $80 million in Series C funding, Jones encountered many challenges from the media and consumers alike. “There wasn't yet a dialogue about using these kinds of consumer-facing products in order to advance intimate women's health,” she explains. “The issues that femtech brands have are universal, so having a communications and marketing agency that could specialise in these issues, and help every single brand to develop, grow, and learn from each other seemed like an obvious choice.”
Ultra Violet Futures debuted its inaugural trend report last week. The Future of Cycle Care 2022 outlines the ensuing market landscape amidst four main themes: Precision Health, Wellbeing Pollination, Planet Positive, and Radical Inclusivity. The term femtech wasn’t coined until 2016, but within a short period of time, the category has grown exponentially, with an estimated worth of $1.073 trillion by 2026, according to nonprofit FemTech Focus. “We're now in a position where there's so much money in this space, people are really starting to engage with it, femtech is the buzzword at the moment. But you also risk a lot of innovation for innovation’s sake,” she states.
Ultra Violet Agency’s prediction of the brands leading the way include personalized contraception company Tuune; daily health and wellness and AI-powered tracker Moody; Emanui’s portable menstrual cup sterilizer; Typology’s periodic facial serums; as well as disability-friendly products like Modibodi’s side-opening panties or The Royal National Institute for the Blind’s pregnancy test.
Butterworth is passionate about not only moving femtech from marginalized niche to center stage, but also making it gender inclusive by incorporating the non-binary and trans, as well as disabled, experience. “One of the big signals that we're seeing now is this move away from gendered marketing terms and trans inclusivity, specifically for period brands. That comes with this understanding that there is a disconnect between your hormone cycle and gender identity, and making sure that we don't exclude those people,” she explains, citing that 1.2 million people in the US alone identify as non-binary, with 76% of them under the age of 28.
“It’s really about human-centered design and looking at how we deliver personalised supportive and emotionally intelligent design."
By Anna Butterworth, co-founder, Ultra Violet Futures
Another key factor will be harnessing the hormone cycle for optimal choices in the realms of skincare, exercise, even educational areas. The same applies to supporting people through their trans experience. “Instead of cycle tracking apps that are for your menstrual cycle, we'll see ones to help you when you're on HRT, testosterone, going through a transition, really starting to meet the needs of the trans non-binary community with this innovation and development,” Butterworth comments. “The problem is that when something is seen as a small minority, they're not marketed to because they're not seen as a profitable community. Actually, we're starting to see that that's not the case. A lot of brands are becoming B Corps, they want to build solutions for people, not because they want to make loads of money. ”
Butterworth sees this new form of bio-hacking via cycle tracking as holding future potential for the beauty industry. Environmental accountability through carbon footprint tracking for brands and consumers alike will be another huge trend, as evidenced in the plastic waste tracker utilized by reusable tampon applicator brand Dame.
Despite her company’s interlinking with femtech, Butterworth hopes to see the term move away from its inherently gender-specific origins. “It’s really about human-centered design and looking at how we deliver personalised supportive and emotionally intelligent design,” she adds. As for her agency’s industry reception and future, the sky's the limit. “We’ve been shocked, at the interest from non-femtech brands, major healthcare companies, consumer brands in travel, fashion, beauty,” the London-based entrepreneur remarks. “They understand that femtech is such a big opportunity and doesn't have to be siloed. It's going to permeate throughout all different industries.”
From its expedited growth figures to weighty funding and cross-industry products, femtech isn’t a subject reserved for the female-identifying among us. And such flourishing genres need innovators like Ultra Violet Futures to help lead the way and guide brands on the path towards meaningful innovation.
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