A year after it disappeared from shelves, feminine hygiene and intimate care brand Queen V is coming back to stores.
In Jan. 2021, British CPG company Reckitt announced the acquisition of Queen V from its incubator parent company Brandable for an undisclosed sum. Reckitt also owns skin-care brands like Clearasil and sexual health brands Durex and KY. Between the acquisition last year and March 2022, Queen V underwent a quiet period as it pulled approximately 12 products from distribution partners like Walmart, Target, Urban Outfitters and CVS. During that time, the brand underwent reformulations to go beyond being only pH-balanced by also becoming microbiome-friendly, and also made minor packaging and logo changes.
Now, the brand is back on the shelves with seven products, starting with launches on Target.com and over 4,500 Walmart doors in early April, followed by Target stores and Urban Outfitters during the second quarter of 2022.
“We wanted to preserve the magic, but give Queen V the power that otherwise it may not have [reached] without becoming a part of Reckitt,” said Olga Osminkina-Jones, global chief category growth officer of Reckitt. “Clinically, we are committed to redefining the [intimate-care] space and reframing the category’s [existence] through microbiome science.”
Osminkina-Jones said Reckitt has seen the changes in the intimate care space, specifically how branding and products have evolved from being perfunctory hygiene-based items to addressing the lifestyle of modern consumers. In the case of Queen V, its product portfolio will cover three categories she called “help,” “maintain” and “enjoy.” Currently, Queen V sells a cranberry and probiotic supplement in the “help” category, intimate wipes and washes in the “maintain” category, and lubricant and bubble bath soap in the “enjoy” category.
The reformulation to focus on the microbiome also represents a more holistic approach to intimate care, and borrows from the rising popularity of microbiome products from skin-care brands like Beekman 1802, 111Skin and Tata Harper. The microbiome is the naturally occurring collection of bacteria and microbes that exist in and on the body. The beauty industry has been moving toward microbiome-friendly products and away from skin-stripping formulations that can aggravate sensitive or problematic skin.
“The skin microbiome has been talked about a lot, as has gut health with [products like] kombucha. But your vagina has a microbiome, as well. Up until now, the standard in the feminine hygiene category has been to be pH-balanced, but pH is only one part of the equation,” said Lauren Steinberg, founder and global brand marketing director of Queen V.
Osminkina-Jones said tha,t similarly to beauty and fashion, consumers of intimate wellness products want to have a connection to the brand they buy from. Queen V has over 75,000 followers between its Instagram and Facebook accounts and is ramping up its TikTok activity. During the year when Queen V was not on shelves, Steinberg took to the brand’s social media accounts to continue to provide monthly updates on the status of the brand and reassure followers and customers that it had not entirely disappeared. Additionally, Queen V posted monthly polls on its Instagram account to solicit feedback from its audience on preferences around updated packaging, reformulations and future products
This new understanding of branding and customer community development will also be used to evolve KY and Durex. Both are implementing new communications strategies and rebranding to emerge as sexual wellness brands.
“The strategy that led us to acquire Queen V is a category-wide strategy,” said Osminkina-Jones. “About two years ago, [Reckitt] made a real commitment to intimate wellness. The way Reckitt used to look at the space was very much through the lens of a manufacturer, [rather than] the lens of consumers.”
Presently, there is no major campaign announcing the Queen V relaunch into retail partners, though there could be a tentpole campaign later in the summer, said Steinberg. For now, Queen V will continue its always-on social media strategy across TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.