How To Market Societal Considered "Taboo" Products?

Harshit Verma Harshit Verma
Oct 11, 2021 6 min read
How To Market Societal Considered "Taboo" Products?

I googled what are some taboos in India, the first result I got were these:

  • Alcohol
  • Divorce
  • Sex
  • Menstruation (Periods)
  • LGBTQ
  • Women Smokers
  • The Left hand
  • Mental Health
  • Affection in Public

So, you see everything that is considered normal in the world is taboo in India. This is weird to one side and depressing as its gets on the other side. How can sex be seen as a taboo in the second most populous country in the world ? This is a deep rooted issue. All the above mentioned taboos are rooted to the old traditional/conventional mindset that is born out of past traditions and laid by foundation of ignorance. The better thing is Generation Z (1990s-2010s) is the new generation that is for the first time trying to get out of this rotten thought process and change it for the better. Change is happening but at what pace ? Slow pace. Good thing is that slow growth is also growth.

This is the face of Indian society, that is slowly changing and progressing. Anything associated with the aforementioned taboos are also seen with raised eyebrows. If you think of a business dealing with services around this domain, they also face the stigma. How do they over come this and market their products to scale the revenue?

Marketing The Products That no-one Talks About (MARKETING THE UNSPEAKABLE)
How brands are building up?
Conclusion
FAQs

Marketing The Products That no-one Talks About (MARKETING THE UNSPEAKABLE)

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority wouldn’t run their ads on subways, but female hygiene product maker “THINKX” kept trying. The advertisement, which showed a half grapefruit with the tagline “Underwear for Women With Periods,” derogatory and suggestive, triggered some people,. However resistance only made their marketing campaign stronger.

As hype accumulated around the ads and ruffled some official’s feathers, THINX replied with creativity. The new ad copy came out with a tagline : “For People With Periods” and featured a trans man using their product. Marketing of unmentionable items like these will raise some eyebrows, there will always be some people who will oppose such campaigns that focus on things they find difficult to talk about.

Some common marketing tacts for Marketing Taboo Products:

1. Honesty is still the best policy

We all know that it’s just periods, mensuration. Some guy from the marketing department has to take the risk and just say it unfiltered and straightforward. Imagine a brand offering new and unique solution to solve real world issues. Then honest presentation of these eyebrow-raising realities can actually pay off. This Honesty can furthermore be used to amplify what the brand has to offer.

2. Become the industry expert. (Spreading Awareness)

Brands spreading awareness - Via Manforce

One interesting thought is that, Any product around this domain is a massive untapped opportunity. Quite literally. Taboo considered products haven’t really reached their full potential due to a bad reputation. Starting a business in this sector can be immensely profitable if you do the right steps. The brand has to be careful in handling their identity. They have to establish an image of an expert in the domain in which the brand operates. So, they got to be a real expert. That is the only way people are gonna believe them. Turn the downside of unmentionable products in your favour. If people aren’t literate about the issue, teach them. Telling them the importance of a good personal hygiene would work. Educating the market will lift the brand to a level where people can start trusting the products. So we see a brand can actually turn the tide in their favour if it is known as an industry expert.

3. Bring Humour to the table.


“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” - George Bernard Shaw

The above mentioned quote is so apt in this point of reference. Most people don’t really know the power of humour or even if they do, they tend to underestimate it. Humour is one of the best bullet in your belt if you are a businesses who is trying to cover any thing controversial. Moreover one should know that it is not always the best strategy to work with. If approached thoughtfully, it can do wonders. No doubt in that but one has to comprehend that not everything is funny.

Out of Ideas? Try to tickle the Funny Bone


Example - With campaign names such as

“Being A Party Pooper Doesn’t Have to Stink”,
“Make Your Dingleberries Smell Like Jingleberries”

and owning the hashtag #GirlsDoPoop, Poo-Pourri (Toilet spray) has effectively sparked conversation around a very intimate action and opened up a dialogue around it.

Poo-Pourri commercial with humour.

Australian sustainable toilet paper brand 'Who Gives A Crap' also uses humour to their advantage. With a slogan like “Nice bum” – and even a rather cheeky brand name – Who Gives A Crap makes emptying your bowels a topic of conversation in a light-hearted and very non-awkward way. - A Medium Article said.


Top 10 Viral Marketing Examples
Check out these top viral marketing campaigns that created a huge sensation on social media and how it tends to reach a larger target audience.

How brands are building up?

Brands have to be nimble with the market type in this segment of products. Especially when they are trying to operate and deepen their roots in the fiery land of Hindustan. India is a special place, A truly incredible market will all colours. Brands are trying to be dynamic with the thought processes of Indians,

Manforce advertisement following the recent events.

For example - Reckitt’s Durex has launched its first-ever product innovation for the Indian market, thin flavoured condoms.

Among all condoms revenues, flavoured condoms are the most famous. So the company decided to come up with a new product, Specifically for the Indian market. The hype around it can be witnessed if you take a look on the social media. Top Influencers are talking about the new Durex champaign that entails the tagline “End Bedroom distancing”. Watching the current scenario of pandemic and the pandemic induced Social Distancing norms, This tagline is so apt and relatable to the target market of the brand. They are hoping to expand to tier two and tier three with this new product.

Durex IG post about petrol price spike.

One look at the Instagram page of durex and you will notice easily that they are talking about everything in the now, relating it to sexual pleasures. They are doing it very casually, because it is a normal thing. They are using humour whenever it is accurate to do so and sometimes raising awareness some sex related issues or STDs etc. These are the previously mentioned characteristics that we discussed and are a good method to follow to establish a company as a brand. All these marketing techniques enhance the company’s perception in people’s mind.

So brands are revitalising unspeakable products via -

  • They are Catching public attention
  • They are trying to wake up strong emotions in the masses
  • Arousing responsibility among citizens
  • Generating Word of mouth through controversial marketing

Conclusion

Things are changing, Be it in a slow pace but we know that they are changing for the better. Taboos that have no bases will be neutralised by generation Z. Sooner or Later. As the literacy graph move upwards, these taboos will cease to exist but until that happens, The people who are truly the saviours for brands dealing in this market segment are literate and modern. If brands are able to tap the right sentiments among old as well as the new generation, they will not only win trust but they will set up the foundation stone for new thoughts to prosper. Thus, New possibilities will emerge.

FAQs

What are considered taboos for doing business in India?

Some taboos considered in India are:

  • Alcohol
  • Divorce
  • Sex
  • Menstruation (Periods)
  • LGBTQ
  • Women Smokers
  • The Left hand
  • Mental Health
  • Affection in Public

Is influencer marketing effective for marketing Taboo products?

Yes, Influencer marketing is quite effective for marketing taboo products as well.

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