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[Interview] Heather Jackson on GenM’s vision for Menopause Empowerment in retail

Gen M has been shortlisted for Retail Partner of the Year at the People in Retail Awards. We sit down with Heather Jackson, to find out… View Article


[Interview] Heather Jackson on GenM’s vision for Menopause Empowerment in retail

Gen M has been shortlisted for Retail Partner of the Year at the People in Retail Awards. We sit down with Heather Jackson, to find out more about the business.

Menopause Awareness and GenM

Heather, co-founder of GenM, is a visionary leader. Her personal journey through perimenopause exposed the lack of support and products available, driving her and Sam Simister to create GenM. Their mission is to unite responsible brands, retailers, and manufacturers to provide much-needed choice, trust and control for their menopausal consumers. All this is underpinned by their game-changing MTick – the world’s first and only menopause friendly symbol to help those in menopause search source and shop products to better support their experience.

Heather’s leadership approach has positioned GenM as a transformative force in the menopause market, which serves nearly 1 billion women globally and is valued at $600 billion by Forbes.

Beyond her professional achievements, Heather’s resilience and determination are exemplified by (for example) her successful climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, highlighting her commitment to overcoming challenges and advocating for women’s health.

Let’s start with a bit about your background. How did you come to form GenM, and what inspired you to start this business?

My background is in business and leadership development. I co-founded GenM with my friend Sam Simister after we both entered perimenopause and found a severe lack of support and helpful products. We were frustrated by the limited options and realised there was a huge gap in the market for a more supportive approach to menopause. This inspired us to create GenM with a mission to unite responsible brands to improve the menopause experience, normalise the conversation, and deliver much-needed choice, trust, and control for menopausal consumers.

Can you tell us more about what GenM does and who you work with?

GenM is the menopause partner for almost one hundred of the most purposeful and progressive retailers, manufacturers, and brands. We are the home of the game-changing MTick – the universal symbol for menopause-friendly products – that is transforming how the UK’s 15.5 million women search, source and shop for products that support their symptoms. We are igniting brands to serve menopausal consumers – bringing visibility, trust and choice to the menopausal consumer (15.5 million women in the UK and almost 1 billion globally) and delivering trust and credibility to the menopause market (estimated by Forbes to be worth $600 billion).

We work closely with a wide range of partners, including big names like Boots, Colgate-Palmolive, QVC, Procter & Gamble, Sanex, Simba TENA, and Holland & Barrett, as well as three of the Big Four supermarkets in the UK – Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s. We’ve ignited the menopause market in the UK, and we’re now looking to take our vision and model to the world. We are looking to launch in the US next and are already having some great conversations with national retailers there.

What are some of the big milestones or achievements GenM has reached so far?

Since our launch in October 2021 with just thirty partners, we’ve grown to around one hundred partners in less than three years. One of our biggest achievements has been the introduction of the MTick symbol, which helps women identify menopause-friendly products easily. Boots worked with us to pioneer this format, launching the logo on more than one hundred products across its stores. The GenM vision is for the MTick to be  as recognisable in the next two years as the vegan sign is today” It’s game-changing.

We delivered to the world of retail the menopause concept aisle and we’ve already seen Tesco debut dedicated menopause-friendly sections in their stores, which received national media coverage.

Finally, as you know, we’ve recently been shortlisted as Retail Partner of the Year in the People in Retail Awards.

What do you see as the big topics in menopause conversations currently?

The biggest topics right now are awareness, education, and the need for choice. We’re focusing on making menopause a normal part of the health conversation, much like how veganism has become mainstream over the years. There’s also a lot of talk about the importance of holistic solutions, not just medical ones. Women want practical options like climate control bedding, appropriate clothing, and effective nutritional supplements. Retailers and brands can do so much to support women through menopause. They need choice and control to manage their menopause in the way that best suits them.

It’s also important to remember that menopause is a societal issue. With 20% of the world in menopause at any one time, it impacts all of us directly or indirectly. Menopausal women have the highest rates of suicide, of relationship breakdowns and are among the highest leaving the workplace. The impact that the menopause has on society is undeniable – everyone is affected by it and everyone has a role to play, regardless of gender.

That’s very inclusive. Is GenM’s focus only on women?

While our primary focus is on women, we believe it’s essential to involve everyone in the conversation about menopause. Men, non-binary individuals, and young people all play crucial roles in creating a supportive environment. Men, in particular, need to understand menopause to better support their partners, mothers, and colleagues. We’ve found that when men are educated about menopause, they become more compassionate and helpful, which benefits everyone.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while building GenM and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges has been changing the rhetoric around menopause. There’s still a lot of stigma and misinformation. Overcoming this involves continuous education and advocacy. Another challenge has been getting brands and retailers on board. However, as we provide solid research and demonstrate the market potential, more partners are seeing the value in joining our mission. We are not asking retailers to cure menopause, we are simply asking them to deliver women the choice and opportunity to improve their lived menopause experience in the way that best suits them, empowering them to thrive.

How has your personal experience with menopause influenced the work you do with GenM?

My personal experience has been a huge driving force. Experiencing the lack of support firsthand made me determined to ensure other women don’t have to go through it alone. It fuels my passion for creating a more informed and supportive environment for menopausal women. As a marathon runner, I use that as an analogy. If you’re running a marathon, you get the right kit, food, and exercise. You prepare. Women of my generation are entering the biggest marathon of our lives woefully unprepared.

What kind of feedback have you received from the menopause community about GenM’s initiatives?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. GenM and the MTick were created to deliver on the irrefutable independent research we commissioned that showed what this audience are needing, wanting, and demanding from society and brands themselves. They clearly deserved better, and our intention is to ensure they get a better experience, including how they search source and shop for the products that support their symptoms.

Women appreciate having more options and feeling seen and supported. They value the MTick symbol as it makes finding suitable products much easier, easier and delivers them trust. Many have shared that they feel more empowered and less isolated thanks to our initiatives.

Are there any new products or innovations that GenM is currently working on or planning to introduce soon?

We’re always looking to innovate and expand. Currently, many of our Partners are working on more inclusive product ranges and expanding our MTick symbol to more categories. We’re also working with retailers to launch the MTick and dedicated menopause-friendly aisles in stores. Tesco debuted menopause-friendly sections back in February, the first ever supermarket to do so, which was a huge success. Soon it will be the norm to have a menopause-friendly section in shops, or dedicated pages online (Boots was a pioneer in this). We’re working with our retail Partners to introduce them to even more credible merchandise and products to allow them to expand their ranges across categories.

How are menopause conversations and acceptance different across various cultures globally?

Cultural acceptance and conversations about menopause vary widely around the world. For example, in India, there’s a much more communal approach, with multiple generations living together, which can lead to a better understanding and support system for menopausal women. In contrast, Western societies often see menopause as a private issue, leading to less open conversation. In some cultures, menopause is seen positively, as a time of gaining wisdom and respect, while in others, it’s stigmatized. Understanding these cultural differences is crucial as we expand globally. We tailor our approaches to respect and integrate these cultural nuances, ensuring our message resonates and supports women everywhere.

Can you tell us about any particularly impactful collaborations or partnerships that have significantly advanced GenM’s mission?

We’ve had some game-changing partnerships with major retailers. Boots worked with us to develop the MTick and they were the first retailer to use it in-store and online. And Tesco was the first supermarket to launch a dedicated menopause section, but they also have lent us their platform to share GenM with many of the household name brands that they stock. Their willingness to support the GenM brand vision and the MTick in terms of signage and positioning within stores and online has significantly raised awareness , choice and accessibility to menopause friendly products that can complement or support the menopausal journey .

Partnering with influential brands has also helped us reach a wider audience and validate our mission. It’s not just products, we’re also igniting brands to think about their colleagues as well. For example, Holland & Barrett trained 4,000 staff to deliver better support to menopausal consumers, and Co-op launched a menopause support guide for managers.

We also recently launched our menopause aisle at one of the UK’s largest retail conferences, responding to the overwhelming data that shows women want menopause-friendly products clearly signposted and easy to access. This launch has ignited the biggest grocers in particularly to look to October 2024 world menopause awareness month to launch some great supportive initiatives with many more retailers looking to work with us over the next few months to better understand, support and serve their menopausal consumer better.

What advice would you give to women currently experiencing menopause or those who will be entering this phase soon?

My advice would be to seek information and support early. Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed. Explore your options, whether it’s medical treatments, holistic approaches, or lifestyle changes. Remember what we said about the marathon – make sure you’re equipped with the knowledge and support you need for it!  The better prepared you are, the better experience you can have. And most importantly, talk about it. Sharing your experiences and learning from others can make an enormous difference to not only yourself, but your friends, family, and work colleagues. Normalising the conversation can help drive real change to ‘the change’ for the next generation. We all have a role to play in making the experience better today than yesterday, let’s not forget that.

Thank you, Heather, for sharing your insights and the incredible progress you’ve made.


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