From medical product to lifestyle brand: How Tena tackled the stigma of incontinence

Consumer insights saw Tena shake up the market for incontinence products, helping it protect its position as the category leader.

Tena, which creates products for incontinence, set out to challenge perceptions of an entire category with the launch of Silhouette Noir, the first black incontinence underwear. It was to be the first in a portfolio of lines designed to reframe the market for incontinence products.

According to the US Department of Health, four in 10 women over the age of 65 suffer from urinary incontinence. Yet, despite their ubiquity, products in the sector tended to be medical and unfeminine, marketed at the elderly and infirm despite being used by many younger women.

Tena’s plan was to tackle the stigma of incontinence head-on, targeting women who were buying products for themselves (rather than for elderly relatives) with more stylish designs that matched normal underwear. Packaging was designed to present Silhouette Noir as a premium lifestyle brand rather than a medical item.

The launch was used to present Tena’s new ‘I Will Be Me’ platform, representing a shift in tone, attitude and mission for the brand. AMVBBDO was challenged with driving awareness and trial of the product and changing perceptions of the Tena brand.

Messages focused on issues highlighted during the research stage. These included key insights, such as a demand from women for incontinence products that allowed them to continue wearing their favourite clothes, as many more old-fashioned products were too bulky to allow this.

The ad campaign focused on two women in life stages where customers typically experience a need for incontinence products: post-pregnancy and menopause.

High profile PR activity, including an Oxford Street takeover, presented images of real women in Silhouette Noir underwear to subvert conventional images of beauty with a bold message: ‘Secret’s Out – 1 in 3 women have incontinence’.

Visits to Tena’s UK website jumped by more than 300% after the launch, and all markets saw competitor growth slow protecting Tena’s brand leadership.

All this culminated in Tena winning the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for brand innovation.

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