How BNPL Plans Can Help Bring Premium Feminine Care Products To Cash- Strapped Shoppers

Long-lasting, reusable alternatives can be budget savers — but only if shoppers can afford premium items’ steeper upfront costs. In the Buy Now, Pay Later Tracker, underwear retailer Thinx’s Alice Warren explains why more consumers are likely to tap installment payment plans for premium products in the future.

Feminine care products are necessary items for many women, transgender men and nonbinary consumers, and the market for such products is expected to be worth $9 billion in North America by 2027. While this means that retailers serving this market can enjoy recurring demand from a sizable customer base, there are nonetheless some complicating factors they must consider. Many menstrual product shoppers are women, a demographic that has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and that has generally suffered greater job losses than men have — possibly leaving these shoppers with less money to spend.

Retailers are aware of consumers’ financial strains, and some menstrual product brands have made a selling point of offering long-lasting, reusable products that spare customers from running to the store every month to shell out more money for disposable tampons and pads. Such offerings are intended to deliver cost savings over months or years and include products such as those offered by Thinx, a brand that provides washable, reusable undergarments designed to absorb menstrual blood.

There is a Catch-22, however: These reusable products cost more upfront, even though they can bring long-term budget savings. This means that cash-strapped shoppers with the greatest need for cost-saving items are those most likely to be priced out of buying them.

“Our customers … know that it is an investment and worth it in comparison to disposable products, [but they can still struggle to overcome] that initial sticker shock,” explained Alice Warren, senior director of customer experience at Thinx.

Warren recently told PYMNTS that offering the right payment options can make a difference. Accepting buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans, she said, can allow shoppers to split purchase prices into several installments and help the brand reach more customers.

Selling In A Recession

Offering payment options that spare customers from covering items’ full costs all at once can ultimately help merchants make sales, and this is especially true for retailers serving customers who are facing heavy financial burdens during the pandemic. Women are likely to be weighing purchasing options carefully during the current crisis as many have lost jobs or been handed reduced work hours.

The pandemic has also forced schools and day cares around the world to close, and many women have stepped into caregiving roles that have prompted them to cut back on professional duties. Thirty-nine percent of U.S. women said in a survey last fall that they were considering leaving positions or reducing work hours to shoulder more caregiving responsibilities, for example. Giving these consumers purchasing options like installment payment plans that offer financial flexibility could be key to converting them into customers.

Women are also more likely than men to be employed in the service sector, which has been significantly affected by the pandemic. This has contributed to women losing a net 5.4 million jobs last year — roughly 1 million more than the total lost by men. These various factors can burden women’s budgets and make them less willing to try premium products that often carry higher upfront prices. Merchants that wish to entice new customers into trying their offerings may therefore find it essential to provide payment options that better appeal to their financial situations.

“I think offering [a] BNPL option at checkout allows price-conscious customers the capability to try new products that may have seemed out of reach without an installment plan,” Warren said. “It has truly made purchasing online and with premium brands more egalitarian for the average consumer.”

Thinx recommends that its customers buy two to three pairs of underwear to cover the entirety of their cycles, as shoppers who cannot afford the cost of multiple pairs might have to use various other products as well. Purchasing several pairs in one go makes for a steeper price tag, however, and the brand has found that consumers are particularly likely to turn to BNPL options to purchase multiple items off the bat.

“Having Afterpay allows those customers who would normally not be able to purchase all the undies at once to still have the best experience of our brand and, with their first purchase, get the right number of undies for their particular flow,” Warren said.

Brands are branching out and offering emerging payment methods as they work to win over consumers and meet their needs at a time when more shoppers are feeling cost-conscious. This is encouraging a greater share of retailers to debut installment payment options that please consumers while lightening the load on their wallets.