Unionsquare Campaign

Disrupting Feminine Hygiene, One Panty at a Time

THINX

5. Gender Equality 10. Reduced Inequalities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production Flourish Prize Finalist - For Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Weatherhead School of Management

Overview

THINX offers a line of period-proof underwear, which can replace or back up traditional menstrual products, such as tampons, pads, and menstrual cups. Each pair is washable, reusable and backed by four-layer technology that is antimicrobial, moisture wicking, absorbent, and leak-resistant.

THINX underwear play an important role in helping to solve UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5: achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Despite progress towards women’s empowerment and gender equality, discrimination and violence against women persist across the globe. According to un.org, the official site of the UN, “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” In many countries, menstruation is stigmatized, resulting in inequalities in education and opportunities for young women. THINX and its period-proof underwear are key contributors to solving challenges around menstruation, and actively contribute to promoting gender equality and empowering women. Additionally, the ability to reuse THINX products contributes to SDG #12: responsible consumption and production.

Authors

Nina Tschinkel

Nina Tschinkel

Kendra Martz

Kendra Martz

Jennifer Coleman

Jennifer Coleman

Jason Mortara

Jason Mortara

School

Bard MBA in Sustainability

Bard MBA in Sustainability

Professor

Kristina Kohl

Kristina Kohl

Innovation

THINX offers a revolutionary product for people with periods. It took three years to develop and perfect the company's four-layer technology, which is antimicrobial, moisture wicking, and leak resistant. THINX offers a variety of underwear silhouettes (from high-waisted briefs to thongs), which highlights its core value of inclusivity. THINX also offers a boyshort silhouette, which allows transgender men who get periods to use its product (hence the tagline “for people with periods”). THINX has recently expanded its product offering to include activewear, such as training shorts and a leotard. The customer can wear THINX all day, from morning to night, and can throw THINX in the washing machine. The THINX customer values environmental responsibility, empowerment, fashion and comfort.

While it is not the only player in the market, THINX has successfully differentiated itself through its cutting-edge advertising campaigns, authentic brand voice and interactions with consumers. THINX is working to continually innovate its core line through improving wicking, absorbency and leak resistance. It aims to expand the population it serves, including younger girls, who will begin menstruating soon, and older adults facing other issues, such as incontinence. Such expansion furthers THINX’s mission to empower women and girls at all phases of life.

Disrupting Feminine Hygiene, One Panty at a Time

Inspiration

Since the 1930s, there’s been little innovation in the feminine hygiene space. With many large feminine hygiene companies owned and run by men—and most products designed by men—the industry hasn't kept up with modern female experiences and needs. Further, the male-dominated investment world has shown little interest in innovative feminine products. In THINX’s early phases of raising capital, many investors decisively passed. “Half the world’s population has been ignored for a long time,” states Siobhan, THINX Vice President of Brand.

As a woman-owned and run company, THINX is particularly tuned in to the female experience. Siobhan states, “When you’re on your period, you often don’t feel your best. You’re a little more bloated, you get acne, you can feel vulnerable. We all wear the worst underwear in our underwear drawers.” THINX aims to shift this experience—to help women feel comfortable and confident during their periods. With the world moving faster than ever, THINX also strives to help women stay focused on what matters in their lives, not slowed down by their periods.

Perhaps most of all, THINX is guided by a strong social mission: to break the period taboo. Siobhan asks, “How many times have you slipped a tampon up your sleeve on the way to the bathroom? Society and history have always told us that this is something we have to hide.” Through engaging openly about menstruation and tailoring innovative products to the female experience, THINX empowers women to talk more freely about their bodies, health and needs.

Overall impact

THINX’s period-proof underwear change how women work and live. With over one million customers (including customers of its sister brand, Icon), THINX gives women the capacity and comfort to work, attend school and go about life with confidence and ease. In many areas, women experience what THINX calls “period poverty” (when women and girls don’t have access to period products and therefore aren’t able to go about daily life). In developing countries, many girls without access to feminine products stay home from school when they have their period. Because the market is saturated with single-use disposable products, access to feminine products can become a recurring problem for girls in these regions. Once a girl has a pair of THINX she can reuse it at many times as she needs.

THINX has made a point of helping to reduce economic barriers to women in need of feminine care products, and has donated over 5,000 products since its founding. THINX also creates impact through philanthropic efforts, which have provided over $250,000 in donations to not-for-profit organizations.

Business benefit

The technology behind THINX is at the core of its business model. THINX reimagined a solution to periods, and it was on the success of this solution that the company was able to change the lives of over a million women. The innovation in the product design allowed THINX to reach the entire market from a new angle, creating demand for a new product to address existing needs.

THINX capitalizes on its innovation in its advertising, which is meant to be taboo-breaking and provocative. Its marketing targets a new generation of women who may feel overlooked and unheard — and a more experienced generation who has been making do with a century-old product. Word of mouth has been one of THINX's most important drivers of product awareness, which is perfectly suited to the product. Disruptive technology drives interest within an existing, seemingly permanent market, and has the potential for increasing sales exponentially. In fact, THINX has already begun to see the exponential sales growth: in 2017, revenue grew by 50% as a result of innovative advertisements and products.

Social and environmental benefit

Traditional feminine hygiene products take a toll on the environment. The average woman uses over 8,000 tampons in her lifetime. Plastic tampon applicators, which aren’t recyclable (due to ‘contamination’ of bodily fluids), pile up in landfills across the globe. Many women use pads, which also wind up in landfills. According to Elissa Stein’s “Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation,” the average woman goes through up to 300 pounds of disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. THINX period underwear, on the other hand, are washable and reusable.

THINX also provides social benefits. Through focusing on comfort and removing the logistical burden of changing a pad or tampon every several of hours, THINX supports busy, on-the-go women. More recently, THINX has collaborated with Harper’s Bazaar on a marketing campaign, which highlights women in male-dominated positions. The campaign includes a Nascar driver, a firefighter, and Kiko Matthews – a British woman who recently broke records with a solo rowing expedition across the Atlantic, using THINX to support her mission.

Through its foundation, THINX is committed to educating women and girls about menstruation and reproductive rights. THINX is currently testing its curriculum through a pilot program in the Bronx, NY. Further, THINX is committed to fighting “period poverty,” which can be found in emerging nations, as well as the USA, where poverty can make feminine products an unaffordable luxury. More specifically, THINX collaborates with grassroots organizations like Happy Period to donate products to women in need.

Gender equality lies at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. THINX, with its innovative period products and commitment to empowering women and girls, is blazing trails and breaking taboos, supporting SDG #5 and leading us towards a more inclusive, egalitarian society.

Interview

Siobhan Lonergan, Vice President of Brand

Photo of interviewee

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THINX

THINX

New York, NY, US

Business Website: https://www.shethinx.com/

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

THINX, a mission-driven and woman-owned company, is dedicated to creating innovative, empowering solutions for all people with periods.