Rio Sanitary Napkins: The era of creating a niche brand

Aishwarrya Chakraverty
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#MyBloodysecret -RIO heavy duty pads- Radhika Apte

Earlier this year, Nobel Hygiene, a brand essentially dealing with adult diapers entered the competitive Indian Sanitary Napkins market for a very specific audience. Social Samosa attempts to understand what led to the creation of this niche brand - Rio Sanitary Napkins & the role played by digital in helping them create a footing.

The India Sanitary pad market is estimated to reach US$ 992.8 Million by 2024 as per a research. It is gaining prominence with government bodies and NGOs coming to the fore to educate women on the relevance of feminine hygiene in India. Rio Sanitary Napkins now joins the market.

Menstruation comes with its own sets of challenges and issues for women capped with existing taboos in the society. One such gnawing issue is that of heavy flow during the period days. The stigma around staining due to heavy flow or having to change multiple pads during a heavy flow continues to haunt the modern society.

Aiming to be a one-stop solution for the problem of heavy flow, Nobel Hygiene recently launched heavy-duty pads for heavy flow, RIO, through a campaign - #MyBloodySecret. The launch of RIO pads marks the entry of the brand into the sanitary market.

From diapers to Sanitary Pads, Social Samosa delves into how Nobel Hygiene created an agile marketing plan for the launch of their new product.

Enter - Rio Sanitary Napkins

The objective for the brand was to begin a conversation around Heavy Flow and how women suffer during these days.


Kartik Johari, Vice-President, Nobel Hygiene said, "We have been tracking the category for quite some time now. Throughout our research, the 100s of women we spoke to, very few of them felt the joy at the sanitary solutions available in the market. We realized their issues are far beyond the current solutions that exist." 

He also shared that issues faced in personal life by his leading ladies and the professional realization led to the launch of RIO Heavy Flow pads.

But why foray into a category now? Johari explains, "From a digitization standpoint, we’ve been tracking sanitary napkins for 4-5 years now, always realizing that it’s a natural part of our portfolio".

Research Begins at Home

Johari highlighted that a major personal experience was one of the key reasons behind the birth of Heavy-duty pads. 

"I have been with my wife for 16 years now. She has thyroid complication and PCOD. 4 years back, my mom was going through menopause and I was bringing her maternity pads which we make. My wife and I were outside that time when we ran out of spare napkins. So, I gave her these pads as a backup. She snapped at me the next day and said that I have known you for 12 years and it took you so long to bring it to me," said Johari.

He shared further that, with menopause on one hand and PCOD on the other hand, it led to an understanding that such women want these products as nothing out there is satisfying their needs. "After the product spread to the other members of my family and related, I realized that this conversation is way beyond just my house", quipped Johari.

At the same time, research further pointed towards a gap in the availability of a better solution for women in the category.

Creating USP

Putting forth that the 'product quality being superlative' - is the first priority for the brand, Johari also highlighted some of the USPs of the product such as better dryness, odor lock, and a sheer psychological relief a woman will get for not having to check every hour & hour.

"The women we spoke to, normally use 7-10 napkins per day during heavy flow. With us, they will have to use a maximum of 3. It should certainly be a huge relief on their end", said the VP, Nobel Hygiene.

Creating Brand Tonality

For the first year, the brand believes that there should be an adequate discussion on Heavy Flow as a subject. To bring forth the brand tonality, communication pieces for RIO pads aim to be 'authentic and raw'. 

"We want to stay away from some of the category stereotypes such as bicycle rides, daffodil fields, white jeans, etc., that’s simply not how you can deal with it", said Johari.

Additionally, the brand roped in Radhika Apte as the ambassador for the product. Johari highlighted that Apte is the right voice in the right place to bring the conversation to light. "She has a non-traditional approach that we have for the brand."


Navin Talreja, Founding Partner, The Womb said, "1 out of 5 women experience periods of this nature. This established the thought process". The brand aimed to appeal to the middle-aged women with a communication piece capped with sensitivity.

The agency shared that the idea was to just show things the way they are without layering them with society norms. "For this, we roped in Radhika Apte. We spoke about the unspoken - period blood and the feelings for women going through heavy flow periods. We got her to introduce a device, a symbol of sorts for heavy flow - The Bleeding Balloon. A symbol to help women open up about their feelings and experiences."

This led to the launch of a series of posts for the #MyBloodySecret, the digital leg of the campaign urging women to talk about their problems surrounding the issue. 

Delving into the Campaign 

The brief given to The Womb was to spread awareness about heavy flow and establish the inadequacy of existing solutions. The specific task for the agency was to show that all periods are not equal and not all women face the same kind of blood flow during periods. 

"Regular period flow is up to 35 ml and heavy flow up to 80 ml. This kind of flow cannot be managed by existing sanitary napkins", said Navin Talreja, Founding Partner at The Womb Communications

The agency shared that the above fact offered them the opportunity to lead culture with RIO pads and attempt to stay away from the 'fake' codes of the category. Sanitary pads category witnesses ads such as women jumping hurdles and wearing white pants. "RIO, on the contrary, has been pitched as an empathetic brand, a brand that aims to understand the real issues faced by women who suffer from heavy flow", said the Founding partner.

Marketing and Media Channels

"Digital was naturally the first course of option especially for a product like us where-in the conversation was necessary," said Johari. According to the brand, it aims to pioneer a conversation on a niche problem which no one else might be emphasizing on right now.

"Digital is tentatively about 60% of what we are spending", said Johari.

He explained that there are other traditional media but digital is the place where the brand lives every day owing to the engagement the brand hopes to generate. For UGC and understanding the cause and in-turn driving it is something that can only happen on digital.

Also read: In-Depth: Tata Trusts turning ‘Kachrawala’ to ‘Safaiwala’

The Way forward

Nothing bigger can be communicated than the sufferers themselves emphasized Johari.

"Women, themselves have stories that other women can identify with. We, as a brand don’t need to come in and put a stance in everything", he said.

The brand believes that 3-4 years down the line, people will still take notice of the issue and talk about it.

For the future of Rio Sanitary Napkins, Johari believes that consumers are going to interact with the brand and probably shape it into something they feel that adds value in their life. While it is yet to be seen that how does the brand evolve. "We are here for the long haul", he said.

RIO Heavy Flow pads RIO #MyBloodySecret rio Nobel Hygiene RIO Heavy Flow pads #MyBloodySecret Nobel Hygiene Kartik Johari nobel hygiene