INTIMATE APPAREL/ SLEEPWEAR
ADVERTISING DOLLARS AND A SENSUAL IMAGE GET A BRAND NOTICED.
Byline: KARYN MONGET
NEW YORK — Two of the oldest motivating factors in the world appear to be responsible for making innerwear a major player in the Fairchild 100: sex and money.
That’s the general consensus of executives at the top innerwear retail and manufacturing companies, whose brand names spark immediate consumer recognition.
It’s no surprise, considering the avalanche of media exposure lingerie has received in the last year and a half, much of which was generated by Sara Lee Corp.’s Wonderbra phenomenon and the hoopla associated with cleavage-enhancing bras.
Interestingly enough, the innerwear brands that scored the highest were the big-time name giants that corporations have nurtured like children and subsidized with big advertising and marketing bucks. Key examples include: $40 million for Hanes Her Way, more than $20 million for Playtex and an estimated $50 million to $70 million for Victoria’s Secret.
The majority of the top contenders also were brands that generally are not featured in off-price promotions at department stores and are sold mainly to mass outlets such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, and specialty operations — most notably, Victoria’s Secret.
Another powerful aspect some executives believe is affecting brand awareness as well as business is the issue of consumer trust.
Lee A. Chaden, president and chief executive officer of the Sara Lee Intimates division of Sara Lee Corp., put it this way: “It’s very important to have a brand that people can trust right now.
“What makes a great brand is a quality product and communication that’s very consistent. You are what you say you are.”
Chuck Nesbit, senior vice president and general manager of the Hanes Her Way and Just My Size intimates division of Bali Co., also a part of Sara Lee Intimates, stated, “You have to keep banging that message home to consumers year-round. Consistency makes a very powerful message.”
The catchy slogan in the Hanes TV spots that’s driving the name into the minds of consumers is: “Wait’ll we get our Hanes on you.” The ads incorporate Sara Lee’s megabrand strategy of featuring various Hanes and Hanes Her Way products in one ad.
Paul Mischinski, president of Bali, noted that the ad campaign for the Bali brand is being “reevaluated” to appeal to younger women. Details, he said, have not been completely planned.
“We’re trying to direct the [Bali] brand to a younger audience,” said Mischinski, “but without abandoning our franchise, which we see as the 35-to-54 age segment.”
Regarding Wonderbra, Mischinski said, “We want to achieve sales of $100 million in the next year or two….We’ve spent close to $3 million in print ads, but a lot of exposure came from the media.”
Mischinski said additional product categories under the Wonderbra umbrella will include shapewear, activewear and bodywear, panties and an expanded swimwear line.
“We think that by expanding the Wonderbra name with other products, we can bring back the department store customers who have been shopping at Victoria’s Secret,” said Chaden.
The average age range of women who buy Wonderbra is 18 to 40; the “core business” of Victoria’s Secret comprises women in the 18-to-30 range, he said.
Greta Shugrue, director of marketing at the Vanity Fair Mills division of VF Corp., observed, “Age to a large extent is a mind-set. We believe we can deliver a positive message to contemporary women of all ages by leveraging our brand position with The Beauty of Comfort, our newest campaign.”
Shugrue said the print ads — which broke in October and feature Vanity Fair’s highly successful collection of Body Sleeks bras and panties — “portray value-added products that are as fashionable as they are comfortable.”
Jockey International is another firm that’s directing its products to specific age groups in its Jockey For Her line, according to Suzette Loverine, director of merchandising for the women’s and girls’ innerwear division. She noted that an unconstructed daywear bra has had “tremendous” results this year, primarily because of the comfort issue.
For Frederick’s of Hollywood, it is sex that gets the company noticed, said George W. Townson, chairman and ceo. “Sex generates interest and top-level awareness.”
The Olga and Warner’s brands, while not in the top 10 for their category, are on The Fairchild 100 list, and the Olga name also made the top 10 brands that appealed to women 30 and under.
Linda J. Wachner, president, chairman and ceo of the Warnaco Group, noted that while the 75-year-old Olga name is a mainstay with older women, molded, seamless and full-figure styles have most notably been responsible for building a younger consumer base.
The Top Ten
1 Hanes Her Way
2 Fruit of the Loom
4 Victoria’s Secret
7 Vanity Fair
8 Jockey For Her
9 Frederick’s of Hollywood