How Do We Keep Menstrual Products from Failing Women in the Developing World?

By Patrick Aylward, Senior Market Dynamics Advisor, PSI

We are proud to announce that PSI has recently won a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the market dynamics of the menstrual hygiene management market in India and Ethiopia.  By combining user-centered design research with an analysis of the market, this initiative aims to develop recommendations for sustainable interventions that increase access to information and products to help adolescent girls and young women more effectively manage their menstrual hygiene.

The $520,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be implemented by PSI in partnership with PSI/India, PSI/Ethiopia, and researchers at Emory University.  The project will seek consumer insights, understand preferences, and identify what – if any – market failures are preventing the use of safe and effective menstrual hygiene management products in India and Ethiopia.

Today, access to commercial menstrual hygiene management products is severely limited with only 12% of women and girls accessing commercial products in India.[1]  In Ethiopia, access to commercial products is similarly limited, with 90% of girls either using nothing to manage menstruation (25%), or using homemade alternatives (65%).[2]

PSI is committed to serving adolescent girls and young women across the developing world. This project will highlight their voice on matters related to adolescent menstrual health and address the significant barriers they face in accessing menstrual hygiene management products. Limited insight into the factors affecting consumer preference and access to products and information, is a cross-cutting issue that challenges the water and sanitation community. With the insights this project provides, girls who need it most will gain access to safe and effective solutions for their menstrual health.

The Menstrual Hygiene Management Market Dynamics project will leverage PSI’s consumer marketing research skills and its social and behavior change socio-ecological framework to understand the consumer journey from decision to access, use and disposal.  The analysis will evaluate how homemade and commercial products meet the needs of the consumer from the perspective of the 5As (Awareness, Accessibility, Affordability, Assured Quality, and Appropriate Design).  PSI will then use its market development approach to identify market failures and develop sustainable interventions to increase access.

Banner photo: © Population Services International / Banner Photo by: Manprit Shergill

[1] “Menstrual Health in India | Country Landscape Analysis” FSG, p12.

[2] “Menstrual Health in Ethiopia | Country Landscape Analysis” FSG, p11.