Undeterred by the sea of activewear labels, QVC will plunge in deeper with its proprietary Zuda label Monday.
Introducing brands is routine for QVC and HSN which has about 22 different categories for clothing. QVC’s most recent activewear introduction was a collaboration about a year ago, when Tracy Anderson for G.I.L.I. with Jill Martin debuted. QVC launched Susan Lucci’s signature activewear in April 2018.
Just as athletic brands such as Nike, Reebok and Under Armour have been offering more lifestyle-oriented looks in recent years, QVC is doing the same with its new label. Having approached activewear with more of an “in-the-gym, movement-oriented” spin in the past, QVC is honing more of a lifestyle strategy, according to Rachel Ungaro, vice president of apparel for QVC and HSN. Research over the past six months has shown how “it has really evolved into a lifestyle than ever before in terms of people wearing clothing like this in every aspect of their life,” she said.
“Women used to wear dresses, dress pants and skirts to work and on the weekends, they wore denim. Now they are wearing jackets and denim to work, and they’re wearing activewear on the weekends. She is pairing her favorite active leggings with a denim jacket and sneakers and is running around doing errands. She might also be going to the gym — and that’s great. But she’s not changing afterward. She is wearing those clothes all day,” she said.
Familiar — and comfortable — consumers are wearing activewear as much as possible, and QVC decided to go after the category “since it has really evolved into a lifestyle,” Ungaro said. “So we felt it was time to go after it a little differently so Zuda was born.”
Monday’s rollout falls on the heels of a tough second quarter for QVC’s parent company, Qurate Retail Group. Last week’s results showed that QVC International revenue decreased 2 percent to $640 million and revenue increased 1 percent in constant currency. In a conference call with analysts, Qurate Retail’s chief executive officer Michael George spoke of efforts to attract “new generations of customers” beyond its core base of women in the 35 to 64 age bracket.
Aimed at mature Millennials, Zuda will debut with the on-air enthusiasm of health and wellness influencer Jamie Hess on Monday. (Older consumers may be more familiar with her mother Joan Lunden, a former host of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”) In her late 30s and a mother of two, Hess lives the workout-errands-kids circuit.
Ungaro said, “The fact that Jamie is an influencer and she is already out there in that space speaking to that customer through social media is something that has worked really well.”
QVC offers 10 activewear brands including national ones such as Skechers. Zuda, an exclusive brand to QVC, was designed and developed by Qurate D3 — Discovery, Design and Development. Zuda’s launch will feature 10 styles including leggings, jackets, tank tops, cardigans and other items. Retail prices will range from $39 to $99. A packable jacket is designed to be stowed away in a fanny pack, which can be used together or separately.
Ungaro said she was not concerned at all about diving into such a competitive category. She said, “The customer is always looking for new things. We have really gone after a type of looks and properties that we know are important to the QVC customer in reference to what she tells us about other brands we carry. We’ve learned a lot of lessons in trying to do this business before. Although it is a trend, you can’t mistake the fact that a lot of retailers are out there doing this right now. I do believe the way we’ve done it is right for our customer…it’s time. It’s just becoming part of her lifestyle now and we need to address it. It’s kind of like the first capri was born in 2000.”
To give shoppers added incentive to spend, select Zuda styles offer moisture-wicking, compression, UPF 20 protection or sustainable materials. Not targeted at any specific age range, the “sensibility of the line” is meant to appeal existing and new customers, Ungaro said. Monday’s launch will include $49 leggings — the “TSV” (QVC-speak for “Today’s Special Value”) — offered in three payments. The full price will be $61. “The fact that we are taking our most important item of the day and launching it with a new brand on that day is putting out there — that’s for sure,” Ungaro said.
As for whether that decreased first-day offer will condition shoppers to expect markdowns or sharper prices for Zuda, Ungaro said, “No. The brand’s not built on one price point so $49 is a very important price point within the brand,” adding that Zuda’s pricing fits in with the core pricing that works well at QVC. Additional Zuda items will be added every four to six weeks. Going forward, halo pieces will be introduced as part of QVC’s good-better-best strategy, Ungaro added.
In other activewear news, Beyond Yoga has partnered with jump roping, dancing and workout aficionado Amanda Kloots for a collaboration that bows Wednesday. The assortment will include a mix of high-waisted leggings, biker short bodysuit, crop tank and other versatile items. The limited run will be sold on Beyond Yoga’s and Bandier’s e-commerce sites, as well as the latter’s Bond Street store.