Sincere’s recent launch marks a further addition to the developing category of female hygiene products in Pakistan. Sincere is a product of Ontex – a Belgian company that makes baby, feminine and adult care products. The company has manufacturing plants in Africa (North and East), the Americas, Australia and the Middle East with products available in over 110 countries. Ontex began operations in Pakistan in 2011 by establishing a local subsidiary, Ontex Pakistan, to import and sell their baby care brand, Canbebe diapers. Now with the launch of Sincere (made in Belgium), the company is aiming for the premium segment of the female hygiene category, albeit at affordable prices.
The overall thrust of the marketing strategy is to open two-way conversations about the many issues surrounding female hygiene – often a taboo subject – through their digital platforms and offline activities such as free sampling via major outlets.
Sincere launched their Ultra-Thin variant in December 2019 and Maxi Thick in May 2020. The standard pack of eight Ultra-Thin costs Rs 135, slightly less than Butterfly (Rs 150) and Always Diamond (Rs 165). At the moment Sincere is mainly available on Daraz and selected stores in the major cities. According to Sincere, “the wheels are in motion to activate other online stores. At the moment, we have a special offer for moms, whereby they can buy Sincere as part of a comfort bundle, which includes our flagship brand Canbebe.”
Most female hygiene brands opt for a name that strikes a chord with their audiences – the one that makes them feel secure and therefore likely to generate trial. From Butterfly, with the implied benefit of freedom and beauty, to Always, with the emphasis on trust, reliability is a key focus – women do not want to take chances with such products. According to the Sincere brand team “we tested the name in consumer panel studies and received positive feedback in terms of an association that promoted reliability and trustworthiness.”
Nevertheless, launching a female hygiene product in Pakistan comes with a set of challenges, not least the taboo aspect, due to the lack of any effort at proper education and communication. According to the brand team “there is a widespread lack of awareness regarding periods and related hygiene solutions, and most women do not have access to a platform where they can speak openly about their concerns. This is why reach for such products comes from direct product trials and personal recommendations.”
The good news however is that in the last five years, Pakistan has seen more open conversations around the topic of female hygiene and health. With Unicef’s #nochutti campaign and CSR campaigns by existing brands, the narrative around ‘that time of the month’ is more relaxed compared to before. The rise of ‘women-only’ groups on social media has also opened up space for candid discussions that help brands understand and cater to women’s needs better.
“Through social listening and extensive research we noted the issues women face with the hygiene products currently available in the market; they include products that cause allergies, discomfort and bare minimum performance,” say the brand team. They add that in designing the Sincere range, they made sure to incorporate the features women look for.
Sincere’s tone of voice on social media is friendly, even somewhat maternal, and the brand is positioned as a friend who has your back, making it relatable to many women. One of their online videos has model and actor Hania Amir helping out a friend with Sincere and talking about the benefits, an approach women can easily relate to – after all who does not need a sincere BFF at some point in life?
MullenLowe Rauf (MLR) developed the #SincereSaathHarBaar and #SincereBFF campaigns. The team say they had a “lot of fun brainstorming and coming up with a distinctive and appealing communication strategy.” Both campaigns were well-received and women from different age groups posted about their own struggles in terms of discomfort and other issues. According to MLR, “the insight behind this campaign is that when they have their periods, women experience cramps, cravings, mood swings and that is the time when they most need someone who is there and knows exactly what they need; hence Sincere is like a BFF: Jo rahay saath har baar.
MLR further elaborate that Amir was selected because “Laila, the character we created for the campaign, is a young woman who, although light hearted and fun, is also strong and a reliable friend to fall back on if things go wrong – and Amir was the perfect choice for Laila. She is young, energetic, ambitious and confident, and with the right millennial attitude that resonates with our target audience.
Digital and social media along with influencer marketing (influencers include Shezeen Rehman of Desi Wonder Woman fame) have helped Sincere reach out to a significantly wide audience despite the lockdown. The plan now is to target more outlets and trade channels and expand their footprint in more cities across Pakistan.
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.