Women’s wellness teas: a new category or marketing ploy?

The June issue of T&CTJ features an article on ‘women’s wellness teas’, a niche but growing category of functional teas focused on helping to assuage a variety of women’s ailments. 

In her article, “Gendered Teas: A Marketing Strategy or Women’s Reprieve?”, our associate editor, Kathryn Brand, discusses how the ‘wellness economy’ is still surging post Covid-19. Kathryn writes: “As this movement has matured, it has, by extension, expanded and brought to the forefront wellness teas specifically catered towards women. This, combined with a growing feeling of disempowerment of women’s health needs, has resulted in a strong market demand in the women’s wellness tea category.” 

But the question remains, are these teas legitimately offering women relief or are they gimmicks? 

The words ‘disempowerment of women’s health needs’ is a frustrating but oft-true reality that has been happening for far too long, and yet continues today. Not too long ago – when I was a reporter covering the retail industry – ‘PMS’ (premenstrual syndrome) was not a ‘real’ syndrome or even an ‘ailment’, it was something ‘in women’s heads’, scoffed at and therefore not legitimised (at the time there was one, maybe two PMS pain relievers on the market). But then (in my opinion) the pharmaceutical industry seemingly ‘did the math’ and acknowledged that nearly half the global population are women (today that number is 49.6%) and might suffer from PMS not only monthly, but for many years — and the money bells started ringing. Suddenly ‘PMS-relieving’ products started flooding the market coupled with major advertising campaigns. Forward to 2022 and the global PMS and menstrual health supplements market size was valued at USD $22.6 billion per Grand View Research. So, despite its auspicious beginning, PMS was eventually realised as a ‘syndrome’ most likely because of its strong revenue potential but a new category was created that does offer relief for a specifically female-related problem. 

Years later, women’s health claims and needs are still often discounted by doctors, leading them to often look for alternative methods for care and treatment, such as holistic medicine. However, there are also women who prefer natural solutions rather than medicinal when available. Women’s wellness teas go beyond the core functional areas of energy, concentration, relaxation, gut health, skin health, etc., to target needs of women during various life stages. Thus, there are products to support women during reproductive life – from menstruation, pregnancy, nursing – to perimenopause to menopause. But are these teas offering women relief or simply catering to women’s purchasing power in a previously untapped market? Perhaps a bit of both. 

While some brands may see the category as a new potentially strong revenue stream. Some of the brands highlighted in the story, are founded by women because they saw a problem and created a product to solve it. Bethan Thomas, co-founder of HotTea Mama, and a tea scientist, told T&CTJ the motivation for establishing the brand, “It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I realised the majority of the herbal blends that I was creating, weren’t suitable for pregnancy due to many of the ingredients inside. This triggered the idea for HotTea Mama, as my best friend [and I] went through motherhood and suffered with morning sickness, struggles breastfeeding and sleeping… We wanted to make teas that were suitable for this life stage, to be both delicious and supportive.” HotTea Mama has expanded its tea line to offer teas during women’s various life stages. 

Traditional Medicinals, the herbal and botanical tea company that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, says it is prioritising women’s health. In the article, Kristel Corson, chief marketing officer at Traditional Medicinals, said, “We believe in providing natural and effective support for women’s health concerns, from menstrual health to pregnancy and lactation support.” 

While I truly hope none of these are simply marketing ploys, there is nothing wrong with exploring a new avenue for revenue (as brands, companies and individuals have done for decades, even centuries), as long as they are legitimately offering some type of relief or support. Support is a key word as none of these women’s wellness teas are panaceas, they are supplementary products aiming to offer holistic solutions for women. And if, in fact, they are offering support, and the more accessible and reasonably priced they are, then female consumers will benefit, and kudos to the brands. 

I recommend reading Kathryn’s article, “Gendered Teas: A Marketing Strategy or Women’s Reprieve?”, which begins on page 30 in our June issue and is the highlighted feature in this week’s newsletter to learn more about this intriguing new category.

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