For Modibodi owner Kristy Chong, selling absorbent fitness gear designed for menstruation and incontinence was ‘the best business decision she’s ever made’. But producing and selling her products has not been without its challenges – namely, censorship from social-media platforms and advertising standards. Despite its problems, though, Modibodi made AUS$3 million ($2.2 million) in sales within the first three years. These are the tips Kristy learned along the way.
Put the research in. ‘I underestimated how big a challenge launching our product would be. We were not just selling gymwear; we’d created a whole product category. I spoke to chemical textile engineers, garment developers, textile mills, then sourced scientific testing for more than 18 months to develop our patented technology. I spoke to about 100 experts and conducted almost 1,000 scientific tests before I was happy.’
Prepare for rejection. ‘A big ongoing challenge for our products is the taboos around periods and incontinence. For this reason, we can’t distribute through large retailers. They found the product too taboo [and difficult to market], so we sell directly through the Modibodi website and build product awareness ourselves.’
Use influencers to cultivate community. ‘I used my marketing background to reach out to journalists and generate awareness. We also worked with a mix of influencers, allowing us to build a global movement. We’ve used them to share messages around our environmental impact and the inclusivity of the brand, and to destigmatize periods and leaks. These influencers now advocate for Modibodi, answering questions about us. We’ve seen positive results in brand sentiment and share of voice from this.’
Conform to traditional marketing methods. ‘I sought opinions on marketing and was told we’d need super-glamorous models to make “unmentionable topics” tolerable to people and the media. I refused to believe this was the only way and, from day one, we’ve sourced models from diverse backgrounds – often our own community – to sell our products.’
Diverge from your values. ‘Modibodi launched The New Way to Period, a film that portrayed real period blood, but Facebook banned it. They requested for all scenes with blood to be omitted from the film, but we refuse to give in to standards set by advertising that are not representative of our values. After direct discussions with Facebook, the film was reinstated.’
Be afraid to make people a little uncomfortable. ‘Our advertising is not made to be sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods. This has made people uncomfortable. However, it provides them with an opportunity to question why they feel uncomfortable and learn from us.’
This article was first published in Courier issue 42, August/September 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.