Sep 19, 2019

The FemTech takeover - are YOU ready?

divider

Of all the healthcare trends in the past few years, none have attracted more attention and more investment than Femtech[i]. And FemTech has excited the media too, with countless influencers and articles praising the fact that technology has evolved into a number of intimate super-niches. An app or a device can give us insight and control over our physical and mental health, help to expedite a diagnosis and subsequent treatment, or simply deepen our understanding of our bodies.

At ROAD, we’ve had some real insights into the sector, having launched several FemTech devices over the past two years. From real-time, lab quality, home-use fertility monitors to advanced electro-pulsed incontinence devices, minimally-invasive lasers for intimate application, and post-caesarean wound care. FemTech is a broad segment with plenty of surprises.

The technology and medical device industries are shifting a considerable amount of time and effort towards women’s health[ii] . Investment is growing and the sector is estimated to be worth $50 billion by 2025[iii]. Since 2014, the FemTech sector has brought in $1billion in overall funding and has already been rewarded with several regulatory approvals, challenging existing mainstream markets and proving to be lucrative investments[iv].

So, let’s say your product is working perfectly, and received a vast amount of funding (that would be nice wouldn’t it!) How does a technology company, start-up or otherwise, go about selling a unique device to a sensitive and potentially undefined target market?

Well, we’re glad you asked (😉), and as we’ve lived through several launches, we are probably better placed than most to share a little advice…

1. Be smart, be stealthy, be gentle

While FemTech is changing the language of women’s health and encouraging both sexes to talk about ‘taboo’ topics like incontinence, the menopause and infertility, not everyone is ready to share a Facebook post about it quite yet[v].

Whilst as marketers, it’s our job to destigmatise issues that women face and educate around the range of solutions, finding and targeting those hard-to-reach women is often the biggest challenge.

Take fertility as an example. There are thousands of women trying to get pregnant in the UK at any one time, and the people in this group are changing all the time[vi] - It’s a transient market. While women are becoming more open about talking about their journey to conceive (Instagram’s #TTC has 1.3m posts), in a social media world where oversharing has become the norm, it’s still not a topic that every woman wants to talk about publicly; particularly not those most affected, and the ones you want to help.

So, how do we reach them?

We take them on a journey, using influencers and educational and inspirational content, matching individual needs and reasons to believe to each target audience, serving near bespoke content. But being gentle at the same time - sensitive communication is key.

2. The authentic power of authentic influencers

Matching FemTech brands to influential, credible and, most importantly, authentic influencers and experts, is fundamental to success. Do this right and it will accelerate the conversations happening online and jump into traditional media and the wider public consciousness before you know it.

Women will trust other women before they will trust your direct marketing content. You can hire celebrities and influencer easier than counting one, two, three, but the challenge is finding the authentic voice that has a genuine resonance with your market, who will speak with a passion and really connect, is a harder proposition all together. Anyone will review your product for £250… but that’s not influence. It takes a certain sensitivity to approach and enrol support from a celebrity or impassioned expert. You want them to speak from her heart. Authenticity first, influence will follow.

3. A new set of ‘norms’

It’s crazy to think that 66 per cent of young women are still too embarrassed to talk to a GP about sexual health[vii]. And men - well typically, they just don’t talk about anything - making Welsh and British Lions rugby ace Gareth Edwards coming out about his HIV diagnosis even more commendable. But let’s stick with the ladies for now.

FemTech is innovating to bring new possibilities to manage treatment areas where there’s often been little change in recent years. Challenging existing treatment modalities is one thing but challenging a market to think and talk differently is quite another. You may feel you are fenced in by taboos, but one woman’s taboo is another’s freedom. ‘Talking taboo’ can save lives and move us all to a better place of understanding, sympathy, tolerance, and importantly … better outcomes.

The trick is to create a context and language that makes it easier to broach difficult subjects. First and foremost, find a team (in-house or agency) that is happy to talk the new talk, and walk the new walk. You must first be comfortable with yourself to talk about the issue before you can communicate it to your market. Some find it easy, others don’t. You have to challenge the status quo, create a new set of ‘norms’ and produce a vocabulary and environment where it’s easy to discuss very personal things without feeling vulnerable or judged. It really is okay to challenge, but never offend.

4. Every day is a ‘learning day’

When you’re in the business of giving birth to new technologies, you must accept that every day will be a learning day. The tech world has grown up on the ‘ship it and see’ model. Healthcare doesn’t work like that... you’re talking about people’s lives, not their accountancy package or smart watch. Whilst you must be certain about the product, there’s often no precedent for the right marketing mix. There’s no textbook methodology for your novel or new technology. You may be challenging an aged and culturally entrenched market. You may be faced with a market so immature there isn’t even a name for it. Who do you target? Which channels? Which content? Should there be a value exchange, and at what price? Which media will be interested? A specialist and experienced agency will give advice that will skip several steps of the learning curve. Listen to their advice and be prepared to adapt quickly as they translate the response they get. Then when you’ve refined the mix... double down.

If you’re a ready-to-go FemTech or med tech proposition and you’d like some expert advice about how to launch, or if you’ve got to an impasse with an existing launch, why not contact us? We’d be more than happy to share our experience and help you get it right.