NEW YORK — The French have apparently done their homework when it comes to exploring the U.S. market and what kind of lingerie entices the American consumer.

As reported, the news that French trade show organizer Eurovet joined forces with several other Paris-based powerhouses — Promincor, France Ligne and Defi, the government-sponsored operation behind the label “La Mode de France” — has caught the attention of American retailers and industry executives.

The first Lingerie Americas trade show, set to be staged Aug. 4-6 at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building, is expected to pull in more than 800 visitors, according to show organizers. The marketing and advertising budget for the first edition is $500,000. A second fair in New York is planned for March 2003.

Following an extensive two-year study, Cos Cob, Conn.-based Lingerie Americas found some interesting statistical details about the U.S. market based on information provided by research firms, including the NPD Group and IFM.

Among the data is that, in 2000, about 51 percent of the U.S. population of 281 million are women, with an average annual income per household of $39,627. The total lingerie market in the U.S. had increased in value by 17.3 percent from 1998 to 2000. An American woman’s average spending on all categories of innerwear rose from $74.80 in 1998 to $86.70 in 2000.

The bra segment, a key classification of a number of European foundations brands, is particularly appealing to the French show organizers. According to show executives, American consumption of the bra market increased 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2000, from 317 million bras to 344 million. In 1999, American women purchased 337 million bras, while women living in the European Union countries during that period bought 315 million bras.

In another comparison, research revealed that during that two-year time frame, 112 million American women over 14 years of age showed a buying frequency of three bras a year, compared with 2.4 in France. The average retail price of a bra in the U.S. was $10.90 and $16.40 in France during that period.

In the second quarter of 2001, Lingerie Americas also conducted a survey in the U.S. with 100 American lingerie store buyers.

Patrice Argain, chief executive officer of the French operation, outlining the results, said American buyers “would like to have a trade fair with wider offerings, greater visibility for the products and a logical organization of the exhibit areas that would enable visitors to circulate easily.”

The expectations of American buyers in a few key figures are as follows:

The creation of a large-scale international trade show: 87 percent.

A fashion forum of trends and colors: 56 percent.

A broader assortment of products: 34 percent.

An opportunity to meet new suppliers: 21 percent.

Argain added that retailers said they wanted to be updated regularly on fashion trends and industry events. To facilitate their visits during the New York market weeks, buyers said they would like amenities including: a business center, a restaurant, an exhibition floor plan and a complete show directory.

Argain further noted that the Metropolitan Pavilion & Altman Building was selected as the “ideal” location for exhibitors.

“They require larger booths, more functional layouts and good lighting,” he said. “They also need a strong marketing campaign to attract the largest number of buyers.”

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