Top 10 most embarrassing things people would bather buy online than in person

A study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Depend found that 72% of people worry that other shoppers or store employees will judge their purchases. (Photo by Bjoern Taubitz on Unsplash)

Americans are willing to pay extra for personal hygiene products online, all in order to avoid the embarrassment of buying in a store, according to a new study.

The survey polled 2,000 Americans found 89% would opt to spend more money to purchase items online that they would otherwise feel embarrassed about buying in person.

Just over half (51%) of respondents said the items they’re embarrassed about purchasing in-store include period cups, laxatives or incontinence products such as adult underwear.

More than half (56%) have avoided purchasing personal care products out of fear of being judged, with 75% saying they’re so worried about being judged by a cashier that they’ll grab random items to throw them off.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Depend, the survey also found that 72% of people worry that other shoppers or store employees will judge their purchases. Meanwhile, 67% admit that they’re also judgmental of other shoppers.

The results further showed many people don’t feel confident in these “embarrassing” purchases until their late-twenties (19%) or their mid-thirties (18%).

Seven in 10 believe conversations about taboo topics are more widely acceptable now than they ever have been before. Meanwhile, just as many believe there should be more open dialogue around topics like health and aging.

Nearly half (49%) of pollsters said they used to feel incontinence products were gross and a sign of being unhealthy, but 71% who made that admission now understand that using these products is nothing to be ashamed of.

Forty-five percent said having their first child led them to acceptance and a similar 46% said having an honest conversation with their doctor was an eye opener.

Other reasons that people changed their minds include opening up to their friends and family about it (54%) and knowing a loved one who uses incontinence products (51%). Although 31% of participants have never experienced incontinence, a close 34% know someone who has.

“Facing stigmas is something we’re all working to overcome, but we’re encouraged by the data that suggests Americans are open to increased conversation around taboo topics, like incontinence. Our goal is to shift the perception around incontinence because we know the true strength of our consumers, and we are inspired by it,” said Lauren Kren, Senior Brand Manager for Depend brand. “We are focused on shattering the stigma and ensuring people have the education and resources they need to live full, confident lives. We want people to feel empowered and strong as they walk through every moment, whether that be a big celebration or a trip to the drug store.”

Incontinence (71%) and colorectal health (61%) are among the top five health problems people consider taboo.

Respondents also considered topics like mental health (65%), menstruation (64%) and skin care (58%) to be taboo.

The results also found a little over one-third (36%) of people feel comfortable talking about incontinence with friends and family. This could be because 58% of people — and nearly 9 in 10 (87%) of those who actually experience incontinence — think there’s a stigma associated with incontinence where people will assume you’re unhealthy.

Other misperceptions on incontinence included not being able to participate in dating and intimacy (34%), exercise (33%), traveling (31%) and even a career (27%).

Still, 69% said they would pick up incontinence products for a friend or family member if needed and a small number of people said they wouldn’t because they’d feel ashamed or embarrassed.

“Incontinence impacts more than 65 million Americans, and the sooner we let go of misperceptions around this issue, we can better support and allow people to live worry-free,” said Lauren Kren, Senior Brand Manager for Depend brand.


  1. Condoms — 29%
  2. Emergency contraceptives — 26%
  3. Bed bug spray — 26%
  4. Head lice treatment — 25%
  5. Hemorrhoid cream — 24%
  6. Diarrhea relief — 24%
  7. Pregnancy test — 23%
  8. Incontinence/bladder leakage products — 23%
  9. Period products — 23%
  10. Cold sore treatment — 23%

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