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Health & Beauty

Billie, Cora, Thinx, Lola, Flamingo: Digitally Native Women’s Brands – a Match Made in Marketing Heaven?

by Mary Pietsch - January 13, 2020

Image credit: Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

With increasing demands of work life, home life, school life, gimme some fun in life - it's no secret that today's women are becoming more time-strapped and no surprise they are shopping online at an increasing rate. So, are digitally native products created specifically for the female audience the perfect match?


To get to the answer, Rakuten Intelligence looked at five digitally native merchants in the female personal care space – Billie, Cora, Lola, Thinx, and Flamingo. Customer demand is clear - these five merchants combined delivered an 86 percent increase in dollars over the past year, more than four times the average growth across all e-commerce.  


Feminine Protection merchants (Thinx, Lola, and Cora) saw a 28 percent increase in buyers over the past year, reaching 17 percent of total category buyers.  Shaving merchant Billie buyers were up a whopping 218 percent and attracted 15 percent of all Manual Shaving buyers - not bad at all considering two years ago they were an unknown and it’s a male dominated category. Shave newcomer Flamingo has reached two percent of all Manual Shaving buyers in 2019.

Female Personal Care merchants had higher growth rates than E-Commerce

Flamingo had the highest growth rates due to their small size, Billie generated over 800% more revenue in 2019 than Flamingo

Build it and they will come, make it easy and they will stay

Time magazine named Thinx period panties one of the 25 best inventions of 2015. Consumers agree, as eight percent of all online Feminine Care buyers have purchased Thinx in the past year. The buyer base skyrockets each May for the Thinx Memorial Day sale, with 24 percent of all annual buyers purchasing during May. Thinx period panties are designed to last for two years making continuous attraction of new buyers key to success, which is underscored by only 19 percent of 2018 buyers purchasing again in 2019.   Even with the high selling price, Thinx's wallet share was only 68% in the year starting with the initial purchase. 

Despite needing more continuous purchasing to build loyalty, the disposable products outpaced Thinx by a wide margin.  Billie buyers gave 87 percent of their online manual shaving dollars to Billie during their initial year of purchasing. Interestingly, in the year prior to their first Billie purchase, 72 percent of their online manual shaving dollars went to Dollar Shave Club. Apparently, female customization trumps gender neutral for at least some customers. 


Cora and Lola loyalty levels were also very high. New buyers for each of these brands give between 80 and 90 percent of their category dollars to the respective merchants in the year of initial purchase. It is likely that these consumers appreciate the ease of a subscription service versus needing to remember to stock up.  

Female Personal Care DTC buyers spend most of their category dollars with their preferred DTC

Billie buyers spent 87 percent of their category dollars on Billie in the first 12 months

Build it and they will come, fill the right needs and they will pay

The appeal of female-targeted personal care products is growing. For each of these five merchants, the number of buyers in 2019 exceeded any prior year. The ease of communicating directly to buyers offers the chance to build strong customer relationships and the payoff can be big. Across these categories, the average buyer at the five digitally native brand merchants spent $48 in 2019. 


Critical to capturing and retaining these consumers is to know their preferences and adapt not only the products themselves, but also the buying experience, to their needs. This can vary depending on the nature of the product. For disposable items, digitally native merchants should consider offering a subscription service as there is evidence that this convenience can boost sales. For a more expensive and longer lasting product such as Thinx, providing an opportunity such as an annual sale can help to draw in new buyers.

About the data

With a panel of millions of online shoppers, Rakuten Intelligence gives the most detailed, and accurate digital commerce data available, and is reported daily.

Rakuten Intelligence is the only service to measure digital commerce directly from the consumer, across all retailers, at the item level, and over time. Our retailer-independent methodology precisely measures commerce as it happens. By extracting detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts, Rakuten Intelligence can map the entire Purchase Graph, connecting each and every consumer to all their purchases.

Rakuten Intelligence gets its data from e-receipts – not a browser, app or software installed by the end-user – so its measurement reflects comprehensive shopping behavior across multiple devices, over time, which are key in an increasingly omnichannel retail world. Rakuten Intelligence is the exclusive e-commerce data provider for NPD’s Checkout Tracking e-commerce service.