Menstrual Cups

Rebranding?

I wanted to address this issue, as it seems to be relevant in many cases of the newer cup brands that keep popping up, and I wanted to make consumers aware of the possibility of this practice.

This is certainly not intended to encourage people to do this – quite the opposite.  I personally have very little respect for brands who are suspected of rebranding, and I try to draw attention to those who I believe are doing it, as I feel it is unethical and terribly misleading to customers!!!!!!

You can buy menstrual cups in bulk these days for as little as 45c each!  You can even buy them individually for less than $2 sometimes.  Making it very cheap for someone to purchase these cups in bulk and resell them for $10 – $20 each, which then seems to be a very good price compared to the larger name brands like Lunette, Mooncup etc. But you’re just getting a $1 unbranded menstrual cup being labelled as something else.

aliexpress_bulk-97c  cheap_50c

ZhidaXintai_04a  ZhidaXintai_04b

The reason I suspect this is happening is because not only are there people buying these cheap bulk listings (what does anyone need 200 cups for unless they are selling them? [or perhaps donating them to charity]) ….  As you can see here, there are people ordering lots of 200 of these cups which end up costing as low as 87c each…. and there are loads more listings that show multiple customers have already bought hundreds of them.

aliexpress_bulk

But these same cup designs are usually the same designs we see the new cup brands selling.   For example the cups with the short thin stem – there are currently 19 brands (not including hundreds of unnamed listings) for cups that look like that cup.  Cups you can buy for as low as 50c each

blossom-care  ZhidaXintai_04a

Which appear to be the same design cups as these “branded” cups that retail at anything from about $10-$30

  blossomcup lola same_vidacup

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There are also a lot of these tab stemmed cups on AliExpress for between 45c each (in bulk) or $1.55 individually…

aliexpresslisting_tab ZhidaXintai_04b

Which appear to be the same  basic design as brands like these (you can see the Luno and iCare even have similar box art)

luno_pink2 icarecolours gyncup

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It also explains why many of the cheaper cup brands offer a pair of cups.  If they are buying the cups so cheaply, then they are able to put 2 in the box and still make a profit and it makes it easier on them to not have to worry about stocking 2 sizes – when each box has both sizes in it.

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Some of these bulk Chinese sellers also offer to print logos and box designs for you.  So even with the cost of getting custom boxes printed – if you’re buying cups at less than $1 each and reselling them at $10 or even $20 per cup, that still looks cheap to customers compared to some of the other brands, and gives a large profit, without having to actually design or manufacture a cup yourself.

Shenzhen Zhida Xintai Technology Co. show bulk packaging for Smartcup and Dutchess Cup, which could mean they are a supplier of those cup brands.

cheap_50c_detail  ZhidaXintai_03b2b
(note “silicone, Food grade or medical grade” – a bit of a worry)

Dongguan GFChina Electronic Material Co., Ltd. show packaging for Blossom Cup and Diamond Cup in one of their listings.  Which could mean they are the supplier for these cups.

blossom-alibaba diamond_alibaba

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Why is this a bad thing, and why am I bringing it up?

Buying at wholesale pricing and reselling is common (it’s the way most retail works in fact) – and the large cup brands offer wholesale pricing to stockist, who add a markup and sell at the RRP to customers, which is absolutely fine.

Everyone loves a bargain!  But you should be aware of what you are paying for, and in some cases you’re paying only for someone’s brand name.  Which if it was Levi or something, you might not mind, but if it’s a small cup seller – you may decide it’s not worth paying extra for their name.

There is a difference in buying a “legitimate” brand (so to speak – a larger company who has developed their own cup) at wholesale price and selling the item in its original packaging with its original name at the RRP …..compared to buying cheap nameless cups off a cheap Chinese site then implying that the product you are selling is your original creation by creating a new name and new packaging for it.

It is seen by many people as being an unethical way to sell.

Also regular people can’t buy “legitimate” cups at wholesale prices, they are only available at the RRP (or via specials).  Stockists get them at a discount because they are buying in bulk and are doing so as an official reseller.  People buying cheap cups on Aliexpress or Ebay to resell as their own brand (that customers could buy themselves for $2-$5) and charging them $20-$30 for the same thing, is a 900% or higher markup.

Sure the rebranded cups may be cheaper than the “legitimate” cups, so you may figure that why does it matter if the rebranded cups are being bought cheaply.  But when you buy a “legitimate” cup you are paying for the research and development of the brand, and in many cases the ongoing costs of registration and licensing for the brand who is doing the right thing.

When a customer buys something like a menstrual cup from a business that has their brand name on it – it is implied that the product was created by that brand.  This practice of rebranding bulk cheap cups makes it harder for consumers to know which cups are being manufactured by the company selling them, and which are just rebranded cheap cups.

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Now that isn’t to say there is anything wrong with the cups themselves… although there is an issue with FDA compliance… it’s a case of being ethical and fair to customers – or just wanting to make a quick buck.

Is it fair for someone to buy a cup for less than $1 and then sell it again for $20 or $30, claiming that it is their own brand of cup that they have developed? (as some brands do, or at least imply)  It is misleading customers into paying more for the product, because they assume what they are getting is different from what they could get for $2 on ebay or AliExpress.  A lot of people would not feel comfortable buying a $2 cup on AliExpress, but would feel confident buying a nicely boxed cup from a website because they assume they are different.  When quite possibly they are the same cup.

Rebranding disguises the origins of a product and make it appear more “legitimate”.  The reality is that the “legitimate” brands, who have developed their own product – have also done extensive testing and are often FDA registered.  Cheap AliExpress/Ebay cup listings are often full of misleading and dubious claims.  A seller can say anything it likes in an AliExpress listing – you’re only going by faith that they are telling the truth.  Customers simply don’t have the same guarantees of safety and quality as they would have buying from a legitimate brand.  If they decide to risk it for a $2 cup, that is their choice.  If they are mislead into believing that $2 cup is actually a legitimate brand because it’s been repackaged and costs $30 – then this is unfair – and this is why I bring this to people’s attention.

See also my Cheap Cups Safety & Ethics post.

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FDA and Legal Issues

There is also the issue of FDA compliance.  Any menstrual cup being sold to people in the US (no matter what scale of the business selling it), is required to be registered with the FDA, as it is a class II medical device, which are regulated.  There are some exemptions, but they would appear not to be valid for most cup brands.

Yes, even those cheap cups being repackaged/rebranded are required to register their device with the FDA, as they would classify as an importer (if buying the cups from overseas and reselling them as is) or repackager (if they are buying unboxed cups and making their own packaging).

The “device” (cup itself) and “establishment” (the business making and/or selling it) are both required to be registered for them to be legally sold in the US.

While we may not like the fact they are regulated – one of the benefits of requiring registration is to help ensure that these products are safe to use and that the businesses are following the rules.  It’s designed to try and stop problems like this – people peddling their cheap products claiming it’s safe when it may not be.

Having a cup registered with the FDA may give a customer some assurance that the product is up to the FDA standards, as well as showing that the brand is doing what it is legally obligated to do in order to sell cups in the US.  However there are *MANY* cup brands who are not registered, and are selling to the US. To find a list of the brands/cups that are currently registered with the FDA, you can search the “Establishment and device” register for the “HHE” product code again [Search results here]

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How to avoid being duped with a Rebranded Cup?

If you want to avoid purchasing a cup that may be a rebranding, then there are some things you can look out for.

  1. Is the cup design unique?  (not seen available as unbranded cups sold very cheaply on websites such as AliExpress or ebay) – The stem style and overall look of the cup is usually the way to tell.
  2. Does the brand have the name or logo imprinted into the cup?  (not all “legitimate” brands do, but if it does have branding on the cup, then it does help you to know that cup is manufactured exclusively for that brand)
  3. Does the brand sell one style of cup or multiple styles?  (It is very costly to properly design and manufacture a cup, so if a brand/website sells many different designs of cup as their own brand name, then this can indicate they buy cheap cups to resell instead of having their own design)
  4. Has the brand been established for several years, and not changed their cup design in that time?  (that is also a fairly good sign that it is a unique or original design and not a rebranding).
  5. Is the box art/design similar to other known cheap brands (Box art like the “iCare” for example is seen on other brands, so this seems to indicate that the box can be printed with your brand name)
  6. Do the product photos look similar to the way cheap cups are photographed (eg are the photos of the cup you’re looking at, look the same as photos found on cheap cup listings on ebay/aliexpress)
  7. Is the pouch similar to other suspected rebranded cups

 

Examples of pouch designs that may indicate these cups are made in the same factories:

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Pinkish-gold satin pouch with black lining and beads on the drawstrings:

femicup-s  comfycup4femalecup2b

Femicup | Comfy Cup | Femalecup

cheapcup_04 Eve_Cup_Display naturalmama_pouch aneer2

Unbranded | Eve Cup | Natural Mama | Aneer

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Dark pink pouches, some with ribbon drawstrings, some with cord drawstrings

aneer4  cheapcup_06 happygirl

Aneer | Unbranded | Happy Girl

prettywoman aliexpress1 cozycup3

Pretty Woman | Unbranded | Cozy Cup

Some of the bulk cups don’t come with pouches or packaging, so resellers would have to (or could choose to) make their own pouches, so not having a pouch like these doesn’t mean it’s not a rebranding, but if it does have a pouch like this, and the same style of cup is available on AliExpress, then chances are very high that it is a rebranding.

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September 13, 2016 - Posted by | Cup Related |

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