When Mooncup’s marketing boss Kath Clements joined the business 14 years ago the then three-year-old menstrual cup brand “wasn’t into advertising”, nor was it looking to make menstrual cups as a category in their own right.
Fast forward a few years and Mooncup’s guerrilla marketing days are but a distant sticker on the back of a public toilet door.
Menstrual cups are no longer the hippie alternative they were previously thought to be and while once Mooncup wanted to sit discretely on shop shelves, it is now upping its game to differentiate in a sector that has not only become a category in its own right, but disrupted the sanitary product market entirely.
Which is a challenge, Clements tells Marketing Week: “How do you compete when you’re used to operating in a vacuum, which is what we’ve done until now?
“So much of the ground had been taken with cause-related marketing. For us, it feels like our authentic territory, it’s our true driver. But it makes it quite hard to know how to position yourself within that. It’s like when you change the bottom line.”
Integral to this has been a complete brand refresh, including new packaging that has been designed to improve consumer understanding of Mooncup’s core values, give the product a premium look and feel and, importantly, increase its visibility on the shelf.
We’re constantly working to reach out to new people but we’re determined to not just generate a repeat purchase proposition for the sake of it because we are authentically environmentally and ethically driven.
Kath Clements, Mooncup
Mooncup’s logo has been redeveloped in black and with a simple moon and waves motif to reflect the brand’s long-standing mission to turn the tide on environmental waste and the inconvenience of disposables. The packaging is also plastic-free and fully recyclable.
The rebrand has been accompanied by a crowdsourcing campaign, ‘The Face of Mooncup’, which builds on the word-of-mouth marketing that has proved so successful for the brand so far. Mooncup estimates around 50% of its business comes from word-of-mouth.
“Our attention will be moving more and more towards really trying to support that momentum,” Clements says. “That and partnerships are what are going to gain more and more traction in the near future in terms of our marketing. We’re showing different people who are real users, rather than models, to display the humanity of the people behind it.”
Mooncup has dabbled with other forms of advertising, including an out-of-home ad that was complained about to the UK advertising regulator for featuring the word ‘vagina’, and a digital and VOD campaign called Period Drama that had the horse pulled at the last minute because its owner didn’t want the animal to be associated with periods.
But Mooncup doesn’t have the same budget as some of the big players, meaning it tends to do a “burst of creative and then work hard to make it last as long as possible”. This is why it is yet to run a campaign on TV.
“We tend to be prohibited because of the cost, particularly when you look laterally and compare those costs across digital offerings and the virality,” Clements explains.
“The demographic is slowly shifting too with Mooncup use. The split is quite crude in that we can measure between the two sizes, but it’s shifting towards the ones for under 30s. That also makes you wonder, is telly the right environment to speak to these people? I’m not sure.”
Another challenge for Mooncup is selling a product that is a one-off purchase that lasts for years. “Which is kind of nuts as a business proposition because everyone relies on repeat purchase,” acknowledges Clements.
“For us, every time we make a sale that user might be happy for up to 10 years with the product. We’re constantly working to reach out to new people, but we’re determined to not just generate a repeat purchase proposition for the sake of it because we are authentically environmentally and ethically driven.”
This means Mooncup will not move into new product categories for the sake of it, such as feminine wipes. This is also why Clements is irked at Proctor & Gamble’s Tampax for bringing out its own menstrual cup while still manufacturing and selling single-use plastic applicators.
“It’s clear that they’re just taking another piece of the pie rather than coming from a notion of reusability,” she says.
Internally, Mooncup has just hired a dedicated marketing manager to bolster its marketing efforts and free up Clements’s time to focus solely on her directorial duties.
“I feel we could work harder at [measuring campaigns]. I would hope that there’s more rigour with regard to return on investment,” she states.
However, Clements believes the size of the team gives Mooncup a sense of agility that larger companies often lack.
“Because we can all discuss things and because we have an employee-ownership culture we are utterly transparent,” she explains.
“Everyone knows everything about the finance in the business, everyone’s salaries…there’s a real sense of everyone’s shoulders being behind the project.”