May 24, 2019 | By Cassandra Napoli
Mar 09, 2017
By WGSN Insider
Last week editors, retail brands, as well as self proclaimed ‘innovators and disruptors’ headed to the Millennial 20/20 Conference in New York. But among the crowd, one of the most interesting keynote speeches came from THINX creator Miki Agrawal, who has created products that are the Voldermort of the retail world- aka he who-must-not-be-named (her THINX period pants, Icon pee-proof underwear and a modern day bidet called Tushy).
A retail industry trailblazer, Agrawal was both hilarious and real while still delivering an insightful speech about just how to be disruptive in retail.
Here, WGSN Contributor Cassandra Mitrani reveals the 4 things she learned, and the 4 ways she was inspired by Miki:
Miki Agrawal started her speech off by regaling the audience with a stat she heard, that between the day you graduate college and the day you die, you have 21,000 days to live. What do you want to do with those days? She then continued to say that the thing that brings us closest to the feeling of bliss is helping others. Connecting the two, Miki revealed that the idea behind THINX was to make a difference in the world, she hopes the pants go beyond just a retail product, helping women to feel comfortable in their bodies and feel comfortable talking about menstruation. Also inspired by the TOMS model, Agrawal found a way to subsidise a local business in Uganda that creates reusable feminine hygiene products so that they can sell to poorer communities around the world at a low price.
And, she didn’t even stop there. To coincide with the business side of things, she started the THINX Foundation, which funds the THINX Global Girls Club and provides educations to girls about their bodies as well as other important skills like self-defense and finance.
Key takeaway: People will care more about your brand when you’re not just in it for yourself. Both you and the consumer will feel happier about your success when you’re doing it for a cause that you’re passionate about.
Speaking candidly about personal period experiences, Miki questioned why having her period had to be so difficult, and what could be done to make it easier. She shared that “the feminine hygiene category is a $19 billion category, and that there have only been three innovations in the entire 20th century; tampons, pads and menstrual cups.” This was the gap in the market. She then spent four years developing her revolutionary THINX underwear, which absorb two tampons worth of period blood while still leaving the wearer feeling dry and comfortable all day.
Key takeaway: Making your product “one of one” eliminates the worry of competition, cutting through the noise and making your product stand out in the market.
Another point Miki Agrawal stressed was to consider both form and function in product design. No matter how wonderful a product may be, it’ll be hard to sell if people think it’s unattractive or has poor form. You may create the most beautiful item in the world, but if it doesn’t function well, people won’t want it. Agrawal wanted THINX to be a stark contrast to the disposable adult diapers that are currently on the market, which she considered bulky and ugly. THINX pants look and feel like normal underwear, plus they do their job of absorbing blood well. Miki also said that THINX are so well-liked when it comes to looks, that she even saw girls wearing them as part of their sexy outfits at Burning Man. How amazing is that?
Key takeaway: Form, and function: these two factors need to mesh seamlessly together when you create for it to be a success.
Authenticity is a word that is used over and over again, but Miki’s radical authenticity goes a step further than the buzzword. She talked about the importance of integrity when it comes to making what you say, think and feel align. Language is key, and her ad campaigns are based on friendly, engaging wording. “We don’t write using very technical, clinical, medical, and academic tones because we tried that and it didn’t work, because it went over people’s heads. You don’t want to be like too technical…. especially if you’re trying to change culture and trying to change the way someone thinks about something. So if you read all of our content, read our language, read our subway ads, you read our campaigns, we write like you’re texting your best girlfriend.”
Key takeaway: A brand’s message should be as passionate as you are about the subject, and people will see radical realness behind it.
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