Marketing the menopause


by Ellie Hughes, Group Content Director

In case you haven’t been paying attention, menopause is firmly on trend. Surprising perhaps, given the subject matter, but not so surprising when you consider the audience – midlife women, who came of age in the lairy, ladette nineties and who aren’t ready to totter off into the sunset any time soon, reinvigorated in the post-#metoo era. A demographic often neglected by marketeers, but with money and attitude to spare – and a clear need state. As an agency with journalistic expertise in health and beauty, we’ve regularly created ‘World Menopause Day’ content over the years, but this year feels… different.

Davina McCall might be a bit Marmite, but it would be churlish to argue against the positive effect she’s had here. Menopause is increasingly mainstream now, but it’s in no small part down to her going out on a limb at a time when no one in the public eye was really talking about it, and discussing her own experiences with her trademark, almost relentless honesty. Her recommendation of HRT caused pick-up rates to soar (one pharmaceutical company reported a 30% increase in demand following her first documentary in 2021), and contributed to a national shortage as newly informed women claimed their right to the medicine, leading to the appointment of an HRT tsar.

These days, famous midlife women from Mariella Frostrup to Lisa Snowdon are lining up to show their solidarity, campaign Parliament for more support and share their frustrations that menopause isn’t more widely understood – and, of course, their recommendations for products to get you through, from cooling mists to food supplements. Many of them also have one or more of the following: a menopause podcast, book or their own dedicated product line.

So, it’s a case of right time, right place for menopause. Finally. According to The Grocer, 2022 was the year it went mainstream, while NielsenIQ named it a retail trend to watch in 2023. They were right. Heather Jackson, founding partner of GenM, the ‘menopause partner for brands’ including Boots, Holland & Barrett and the Co-op, described it earlier this year in the same Grocer article as the ‘new veganism’ in terms of the marketing, product development and signposting opportunities. Indeed, Sainsbury’s has just become the first of the big four supermarkets to join GenM, with the ambition of ‘improving the menopause experience for all’.

At The River Group, we share that ambition. We’ve recently created menopause content for YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, podcasts and, yes, print. As a female-led group of agencies, with a diversity of ages represented across the teams, it’s a topic that resonates with us. We pride ourselves on being able to create distinctive, authentic menopause content that drives open and honest conversations around menopause while laddering back to our client’s specific USPs. This audience isn’t going to accept anything less.

And judging by the queues of midlife women wanting to take part in some vox pops we filmed recently, I don’t think we’ve reached anything like peak menopause yet.

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