What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of a tampon? In most cases, it’s going to be a unanimous stand against a tampon since it’s considered to be dangerous, uncomfortable and in some ways even a taboo for those who have always used a sanitary napkin. The truth, however, may be completely different. A sanitary napkin doesn’t necessarily guarantee a stain-free experience, something that girls and young women are always wary of, regardless of your flow day – heavy or low. Every time you get up from your seat, you must check yourself or speak with a girlfriend in hushed tones to check for a stain.
FLOH, the brainchild of young entrepreneur Gauri Singhal was launched in May 2018 and is intended to unravel innovative and convenient solutions in the Indian feminine hygiene market.
We spoke with Gauri about being a Visionaari – her personal care start-up that aims to reach out to every woman of today with solutions to take care of their personal needs. FLOH is the tampon brand started by Gauri and she wishes to build awareness about feminine hygiene and facilitate easier access to high-quality sanitary products, while also enlightening and supporting women from different walks of life. Gauri’s startup also added another product to her Visionaari brand. It’s called FLOH Crampfree – a set of period pain relief patches.
Read on for the entire interview:
How and why did you feel the need for disruption the age-old process and products in the feminine hygiene space?
My research in this space started when I attended a panel discussion related to feminine hygiene wherein 2 industry veterans only spoke about sanitary napkins. Through my extensive research related to tampons, I found that the use of tampons in Italy can go up to 60% when compared to sanitary napkins. In India, however, it has been less than 1%.
Further, we visited numerous pharmacies, gynaecologists and my own alma mater, Lady Sri Ram College, where we spoke to men and women only to find that knowledge related to tampons and their convenience is unfortunately scarce. This is when I realized that there exists a substantial gap in India’s feminine hygiene market which can be bridged only by brands working in this space. Currently, the product has not picked up tremendously because no brands are talking about it or advertising it to the masses.
Newer ventures and companies need to start conversations about the product and ensure that more women make the switch to tampons. Even if we do not immediately get the pads to tampons ratio up to 50% or 60% like our international counterparts, we at least need to make sure that there exists a healthy mix of products in the market and that women know that they have access to affordable alternatives.
Please throw more light on Visionaari.
Visionaari, which stands for Visionary women, is a company working in the personal care space. Its flagship brand FLOH creates portable digital viscous tampons that provide up to 8 hours of protection in a price bracket that is conveniently similar to that of sanitary napkins. These affordable products are far more convenient than other products available in the market.
They are extremely portable, internal use products that provide utmost comfort to women. As the name FLOH suggests, we are a bold brand and will never be hush-hush about menstruation. Women using our tampons have said that they feel so comfortable that they forget that they are currently menstruating. By offering such effective, high-quality tampons to women at affordable prices, we are encouraging them to ‘go with the flow’ even when they are on their period.
Your message to women who feel talking about periods is taboo and how can the mindset change?
I feel that the mindset is already changing as numerous people across the country are initiating conversations about menstruation. With the government taking significant steps such as GST exemption on feminine care products, it is clear that India is gradually warming up to the topic, and is ready to evolve within this category.
The next natural progression will now be for brands to begin talking about periods to take a holistic stand and allow people to feel completely comfortable talking about periods. I feel the time has come for everyone to come together to make menstruation a comfortable topic to talk about.
It took a while for women all over to accept the use of sanitary napkins, how long do you feel tampons will take?
Yes, it definitely took sanitary napkins a long time to find their footing in the Indian society and while they still cater to only 12% of the population, the switch to tampons will be a lot faster in my opinion. In today’s age of digital and social media, the audience is very aspirational. An increasing number of women are earning and are continually looking to uplift their quality of life. They are open to experimenting with products that have the potential to help them lead a better and more comfortable life. With so many women across demographics including Tier III and IV cities and rural areas already responding positively to FLOH tampons, we firmly believe that the category will witness a sure-shot growth over the next few years.
What are the measures you and Visionaari hope to take in order to spread the word and educate women?
We are leveraging young, bold and quirky marketing activities to pass on the message about tampons. We have seen extremely positive results from influencer activation in the past and will continue to focus on this as a marketing strategy. I have also garnered extensive experience and deep insights into building an FMCG company in the past few years. We are now expanding the offline presence of our product through modern retail chains and pharmacies as well.
What other personal care products will see being launched in the near future?
Currently, the brand is focusing on other innovative products in the feminine hygiene space. We recently launched FLOH Crampfree period pain relief patches that last up to 12 hours. These are Ayurvedic and herbal patches that don’t have any side-effects. These are infused with menthol oil and eucalyptus oil which instantly give a calming effect to muscle cramps that one experiences during periods. This product, like our flagship tampon, has seen great acceptance among women across demographics. FLOH eventually envisions reaching out to every woman with solutions that enable them to take better care of their personal needs and emerge as a synonym for healthy and hygienic periods across the country.