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Considering Option “Number Two”

BY: STACEY LAYNE AND SHAUN STRIPLING

Bugs are scary and ugly. I purposely stepped on one this morning. But bugs are also vital to our ecosystem. Just as insects are invaluable to our external environment, their microscopic twins, bacteria, are important to our internal environment. There are up to 10 times more bacteria in our bodies than there are cells, which puts your body as the host of somewhere in the neighborhood of trillions of bugs.1 As you contemplate the fact that you are basically a planet inhabited by alien life forms, keep in mind that there are many dimensions to bacteria. Your survival and your quality of life depend on them.

Most product messaging that we hear today is focused on fighting germs and harnessing the power of clean. Marketers who sell these products are taking advantage of the fact that we’re busy, worried about our health and need to keep our bodies and homes clean. And, yes, the fear of “germs” might have gone a little too far. Perhaps we are realizing that we’ve overdosed as a society on products like antibiotics and sanitizers. We have started indiscriminately killing bacteria without knowing we were creating imbalances that actually have a negative impact on our health.

Enter good germs. Probiotics have gained popularity recently. Why? Perhaps because prevalence rates of IBS in women are approximately one and a half to three times higher than those in men.2 The highest prevalence of IBS was seen in working women, at up to 75%.3

If you’ve explored this category yourself, you’ve probably noticed that the sheer number of products in the market right now is mind-numbing. But what is the future of this innovation? Are there other options for dosing up on good bugs besides pills and products like yogurt and Kombucha?

Oh, yes. Option number two has emerged. I’m going to say it: eating sh*t.

This all started because folks were getting fecal transplants to combat serious pathogenic bacterial invasions. The University of Massachusetts–Boston has been performing a study to research the additional benefits that could be had by trading human bacteria, but with a new method: ingesting freeze-dried feces.4 Researchers are hopeful that we could find even more benefits by affecting the gastrointestinal state. This could parlay into the creation of “poop pills” targeted specifically for strengthening the immune system, treating obesity or encouraging better nutrient absorption, with the potential of even farther-reaching medical breakthroughs. This in turn could pave the way to the option of having customizable solutions that fit your unique gut biome. And that’s freaking exciting.

Many unexpected brands are getting into the act. Clorox recently purchased Renew Life, a privately held company that makes dietary supplements, chiefly the Ultimate Flora line of probiotic goods. The price of the all-cash deal was roughly $290 million. Well, that seems like a conflict of interest, right? Wrong. As we here at Frank About Women know, women are complex and can’t be regulated to “one size fits all” solutions.

In exploring options for your brand’s view on personal sanitation, health and wellness, marketers should never leap to an easy or stereotypical solution. Woman seek both brands and products that will address their needs relative to life’s complexities; wellness expectations are in a state of revolution. We’re not just seeing incremental shifts in expectations. We’re also demanding transformational leaps of enlightenment from brands.

References

  1. Statt, Nick. “Fact: You Carry Around Enough Bacteria To Fill a Large Soup Can.” Popular Science. 2013.
  2. Canavan C, West J, Card T. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Epidemiol. 2014;6:71-80.
  3. Hungin AP, Chang L, Locke GR, Dennis EH, Barghout V. Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005;21.
  4. Shute, Nancy. “Frozen Poop Pills Fight Life-Threatening Infections.” NPR.com. 2014.
Stacey Layne About the Author
Stacey Layne Senior Project Manager

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