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P&G’s Always wins over Kenyan women with growing range

In a 2021 IPSOS report, Always was ranked the 4th most loved brand by Kenyan women. In recent years, Always has grown its offering to include new variants such as its Always Cotton Protection into the market adding to the existing product portfolio. This new sanitary pad is 100% organic, unscented and dye-free, perfect for the Kenyan consumer who is looking for extra comfort during that time of the month.

Additionally, with the new improvements and upgrade on the night variant, Always All Night Maxi Pads, more women can now tuck in extra hours of sleep in the night without having to worry about leakage. Specially designed for menstrual protection at night, these pads come with a Clean and Dry Topsheet for all night protection as well as flexible wings that hold the pad right in place through all the midnight twists and turns. There is no doubt that over the years, Always has won the hearts of millions of Kenyan women and continues to be a central item in the closets and handbags of young girls and women.

The menstrual landscape in Kenya

Every woman remembers the first time she had to face the reality of menstrual bleeding. It could’ve been when she was safely tucked in the comfort of her home and was able to navigate the changes with the help of older women. Or, when she was out and about just going through her day, forced to react quickly to the onset of periods. For most women and teenage girls, menstruation is a critical turning point in life. Even more so for African women, many of whom have had to use homemade alternatives versus good quality menstrual hygiene products.

Kenyan women continue to grapple with age-old period taboos that perpetuate stigma and marginalization in their communities. Women and girls who continue to use unhygienic options during their period (such as newspapers, leaves, tissues, cloth, and cow dung) not only face serious health issues but also tend to miss work or school more frequently. In Kenya, for example, 1 in 10 girls drop out of school because of their period. In some recorded cases, girls resort to reusing sanitary pads.

As this 15-year-old recounts to Al Jazeera, “When I was 15 in class 6, I used to share used pads with classmates before my class teacher warned against it because it was unhygienic.” It’s therefore abundantly clear that there is a direct link between access to adequate female hygiene products and women’s participation in education and employment in society.

The entrance of Procter & Gamble’s Always into the market marked a big shift for Kenyan women. Suddenly, they could take stronger control over their periods, in ways that had not been possible before. The prevalence of reliable sanitary pads meant women could enter the workforce more effectively, and young girls could go to school uninterrupted – opening up their worlds significantly and allowing them to change their lives for the better.

How P&G’s Sanitary Pad Brand ‘Always’ Changed the Game in Kenya

In 1992, P&G’s flagship sanitary pad brand - Always - made its grand entrance into the Kenyan market. Before that, safe and reliable menstrual products were not widely accessible for a large group of women. As one of the first easily available mass-market sanitary pads, Always Kenya’s products changed the game completely.

Here’s a deep peek into why I think Always grew into one of the most dependable, loved, and trustworthy female hygiene brands in Kenya.

1. Making Sanitary Products Accessible

For many women in Kenya, accessibility to sanitary products is synonymous with Always Kenya. Having formed part of the lives of millions of women, across generations, it’s become a household name and a permanent ‘staple’ in every home, guaranteeing comfort and protection for women and young girls during their period.

For many mothers, introducing their daughters to their drawer stacked with Always products is a cherished coming-of-age tradition that is now carried forward from one generation to another.

Little girls, who are yet to be of menstrual age, often can be found chatting up about an Always TV commercial that might have intrigued them. Young girls know of Always and its plethora of products even before they even fully understand the concept of menstruation. And apart from making products accessible, Always Kenya has also consistently offered innovative quality products that are responsive to the unique needs of our market.

Speaking about their recently diversified portfolio of female hygiene products, Ivy Kimani, a top-level Always employee recently said while introducing a new product, “At Always, the needs of women and girls is our number one priority. We appreciate the evolving demands of consumers and have launched an exciting new set of products that we believe can meet customer needs while keeping comfort and safety a top priority.”

According to Kimani, while the materials or components may differ from product to product, the quality, safety, protection and comfort of all Always products remain of high eminence.

I believe Always has made a consistent effort to be present to the needs of Kenyan women. And because of this, if Always Kenya is one of the available brands on the shelf, a woman is likely to reach for it.

As this Kenyan blogger puts it, “As a Kenyan woman, I feel fortunate to have access to different types of sanitary pads that I can choose from according to my requirements. And when I say the experience I mean according to my period flow.”

2. Supporting Kenyan Women

Always Kenya has become well-known for its educational advocacy across Kenya. Its ‘Always Keeping Girls in School’ programme was launched to empower girls with essential puberty education, reduce stigma, and build up confidence in them. And through the program, Always Africa has so far distributed more than 8.7 million pads to over 200,000 girls across Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. It has pledged to donate at least 1 million pads in the year 2021 to 2022, continuing to signal the company’s commitment to providing a supportive framework for girls to thrive in their communities.

Something that stands out for me about the Always Kenya ‘Keeping Girls in School’ programme particularly is the inclusion of young boys in the session. Kenya is already recognised worldwide for being a pioneer in addressing equitable access to sanitary products, by being the first country to remove tax on such products. The inclusion of boys in period education is a radical, necessary step towards normalising period conversations and giving boys and young men much insight into the challenges periods place on girls so we can work together to address them.

Always also joined hands with the Kenyan government to donate thousands of pads during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which were distributed across four counties in the country.

3. Progressive Campaigns by Always Kenya

Always campaigns generally reach legendary status. The “No Check, No stain” jingle is familiar to most girls from my generation. The ad features a young girl sharing her concerns about having to check her clothes periodically to make sure she hasn’t stained them during her period – “in the bus, in the classroom – I check, check.” Its campaigns continue to resonate with girls, evolving with their audience and connecting with their hearts.

In June 2020, Always Kenya made this message clear with their ‘Generation of Change’ campaign that saluted and celebrated women’s powerful ability to speak up and spark change in society. Globally, Always launched ‘The New Brave’ which highlighted the self-empowerment of women during the pandemic, including those fighting isolation at home, not seeing family for long periods of time, managing remote work and school, teaching and learning with children, and adapting to a new definition of what it meant to be “brave”.

Another example is the Emmy Award-winning #LikeAGirl campaign, which repurposed the derogatory phrase “you throw like a girl” into one that is inspiring, bold, and aspirational – something that resonated strongly with women all over the world.

Through its campaigns, Always tries to steer healthy conversation which aims to address bias and stigmas related to menstruation and women are perceived in society. While menstruation hygiene is only one of the many aspects of gender equity, Always has always tried to trigger a conversation that’s much larger and visionary - another reason why Always occupies a special place in the hearts of Kenyan women. For Always Kenya, women matter not just because they use Always’ products but because they are simply women.

4. One-Stop Destination for Everything Period-Related

Tracking periods can be super stressful for most women, and being caught unawares can be unpleasant and inconvenient (no one likes ruining their favourite pair of underwear or linen white sheets!). We all try to make sure we’re period-ready when our period descends. The official website of Always has a period tracker that helps young girls and women understand their menstrual cycle better.

It also includes a blog section with useful advice for moms and girls – touching on topics such as when does puberty start and how to identify the signs of early period onset. There is something for everyone, whether you’re navigating the terrain for the first time as a teen or whether you’re a mom looking for fun and informative material to help you communicate effectively with your daughter.

So whether it’s through its expansive product offering that caters to the unique needs of Kenyan women or through strong programmes and initiatives that champion Menstrual Health Education – what makes Always such a strong crowd-favourite among Kenyan women is that it acknowledges menstruation beyond a simple transaction of goods.

Over the years, the P&G brand has developed a holistic understanding of challenges faced by women relating to menstrual hygiene and feminine care and is consistently striving to achieve equal rights for women in a society that is traditionally male-oriented. Because of this fresh approach, today Always is considered a beloved part of the Kenyan women’s rite of passage into womanhood - offering safety, comfort, and quality products for women of all spectrums in our society. This is not to say that in its journey spanning decades it hasn’t faced any hiccups. However, through thick and thin, Always’ commitment to the needs and wants of Kenyan women has never wavered and in today’s day and age, that means absolutely everything. 

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