Innovator Interviews: Thinx's Chief Growth Officer Crystal Zerrenner
Crystal Zerrenner, Chief Growth Officer at Thinx, talks about the period underwear brand's latest campaign.
Direct-to-consumer brand Thinx has been on a mission to revolutionize menstrual hygiene in several ways – offering the latest in innovative period underwear; breaking taboos associated with reproductive health everywhere; and doing this through a sustainable product that helps cut down on tampon applicators and pads that have been filling up landfills.
The global market for period panties is expected to reach $279.3 million by 2026, per Future Market Insights. Thinx has been a leader in the category through DTC channels and recent distribution at retailers includingTarget and CVS. The company grew almost 50% last year reaching almost $80 million in sales. This year, Thinx expects to reach $100 million.
To help fuel this growth, the company is running a new campaign that aims to reach new audiences and activate existing customers in a way that helps elevate the conversation around the discomfort of having a period. The ‘Thinx Absorbs Worries’ campaign calls consumers to share their period worries in order to give a voice to and normalizes the monthly experience of menstruators with compassion and humor.
“At Thinx, we’re always listening to our customers and we discovered that while people are looking forward to returning to a new normal, this shift can bring added worry for those who have to deal with their periods in public again,” says Crystal Zerrenner, Chief Growth Officer at Thinx.
Thinx is working with influencers to build a conversation with the hashtags #Thinx #absorbsworries. The effort encourages people with periods to talk about what worries them most about periods on social media. The campaign also includes a large-scale visual billboard experience: “Thinx Absorbs Worries” in Brooklyn, NY. The Thinx billboard will project actual real-life period “worries” and absorb them into a pair of life-sized Thinx. These worries can be shared by passing consumers that interact with the billboard, as well as online. Examples include: “Planning outfits around my period,” “Commuting while cramping,” and “Bleeding out on someone else's chair.” The outdoor activation aims to be both product demonstration and campaign by creating a space for consumers to have conversations around the stresses that can come with having a period.
Brand Innovators caught up with Zerrenner to discuss the new effort and how this campaign supports the brand’s mission to educate and fight taboos around menstruation. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is the strategy behind the new campaign?
Through this campaign, we’re hoping to give people a venue to be heard and share what worries them about their periods, particularly in a time of uncertainty. We believe this campaign can help people with periods: Share what worries them – the good, bad, ugly and the funny. Understand they are not alone in this experience by bringing the delight and humor of seeing period worries they can relate to projected on full display on a billboard and across social media, without shame or embarrassment. Educate anyone, even those who do not have a period, on how stressful this time can be.
What channels are you using to communicate the message and why?
We intentionally chose a multichannel approach spanning OOH, social and digital media. Ultimately, we’re catching the attention of our audiences where they are, when they least expect it, and in a way that resonates.
The Thinx Brand Team led the creative strategy and development of the campaign that began with us tapping into our community to source the worries that are projected on the billboard; each ‘worry’ is something that a real person has shared about having a period out in public. The idea is about returning to having periods in public so the natural media choice was OOH – a place where we could deliver a striking public message about periods.
Not only does the IRL activation and accompanying digital campaign provide a safe space for people to talk about various stresses that come along with having a period in public, it doubles as a clever product demonstration conveying how our period underwear works - you can actually see how our underwear absorbs periods.
Across digital channels, we’re encouraging people to share what worries them on social media for the duration of our campaign, and beyond, with the tag combo #Thinx #absorbsworries.
We’re a performance marketing company, so we will continue to keep this campaign alive and invest in the digital assets as long as they are driving people to our site and sparking conversation
Who are you targeting?
Anyone who has a period worry and anyone who knows someone with a period. Overall, our customers range from those with first periods to those who are post menopausal – and they have demonstrated their desire to purchase Thinx because our products are superior, reliable, sustainable, and comfortable. We want them to know we are here to support any worry that comes their way with the confidence of leak-free days.
If you zoom out even further from this campaign, helping people have a better understanding of the added worry people with periods live with may inspire action to make things more accessible and supportive. As a company, we talk a lot about period equity, like making menstrual hygiene products available in all bathrooms, much like we do for toilet paper and paper towels. We believe educating people without periods, some of whom are making policy decisions that greatly impact people with periods, can have a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of many and potentially lead to a more productive and supportive society.
How does this effort support your brand pillars?
Thinx is on a mission to be the most innovative leader at bringing sustainable and comfortable menstruation products to market. We’ve also always been an advocacy brand; as a company offering a newer product for periods, and working to educate and fight taboos, it’s impossible to not be. But we are also a for-profit company focused on growth and have been able to continue to do good while we continue to scale.
From inception, we challenged traditional norms of ‘femcare’ and chose a more inclusive path – from our models, to our language, to how we launch new products, and conversations.
Thinx is no stranger to bold advertising like this. It’s in our DNA. We’re often remembered for our signature MTA ads from 2015 known as the first public display to destigmatize talking about periods in public, as well as our provocative TV commercials. With 60% of the market share in the US, we are the category leader and have a responsibility to drive product education around how period underwear works and equally importantly, making sure they understand the emotional benefits of having healthy, sustainable, reliable period care options.