Valentine’s Day in the era of personal protective equipment might be a bust, but lingerie brands are trying to court consumers from six feet away nonetheless.
Retailers wanting to capitalize off Cupid this year, then, might be best advised to focus on inclusivity, according to a new report by Traackr, an influencer marketing platform.
“As a brand, you cannot stand on the sidelines anymore,” Evy Lyons, vice president of marketing at Traackr, told WWD. “Consumers want to make purchases in alignment with their values. And the top brands in each category are brands that have meaning that goes beyond their products.”
Underwear and other unmentionables might not be the first things that come to mind when considering larger social movements. Even so, the firm followed a pool of more than 41,000 fashion and lifestyle influencers, from mega to micro, in North America and Europe during the pre-Valentine’s Day season, or the six weeks between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10, to see where all the action was.
Both organic and sponsored influencer posts were incorporated into the survey to determine which lingerie brands had the most engagement, or number of reactions, likes, shares and comments across all social media (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter), during the allotted time frame.
Turns out, innerwear firms that highlight inclusivity by making a “demonstrated effort to represent everyone” in their messaging were getting more love online, or had 71 percent more mentions in influencer posts, compared with the same time last year. They were also more likely to be mentioned in posts than brands that have a more narrow definition of beauty.
That translated into 49 percent increased engagement overall within the best-performing brands in the survey: Savage x Fenty, Playful Promises, Cuup, Cosabella, Fleur du Mal, La Perla, Agent Provocateur, TomboyX, ThirdLove, Slick Chicks, Wacoal, Aerie and Saalt.
Savage x Fenty, Aerie, La Perla, Agent Provocateur and Cuup took the top five spots, with Rihanna’s lingerie brand leading the pack: 215 percent increase in posts mentioning the brand and a 63 percent rise in engagement, compared with the same time period in 2020.
“The trend toward inclusivity has definitely gone beyond just shapes and sizes,” Lyons noted. “Now it includes ethnicities and gender fluidity.”
Meanwhile, consumers’ preferences continue to separate in the innerwear world, with many of them being seduced by sexy lingerie during lockdown. Sales of barely there lingerie increased 244 percent at lingerie and swimwear e-tailer Figleaves in December 2020 year-over-year in the firm’s own brand. London-based Playful Promises saw a 90 percent rise in sales of crotchless-style underpants in Nov. 2020, year-over-year, while sales of suspenders and alluring underpants surged last summer at Agent Provocateur.
Others have taken comfort in sweatpants and bra-free living while at home. But Lyons pointed out that inclusive does not necessarily translate to unsexy.
“Savage x Fenty is a perfect example of that,” Lyons said. “That’s one of the elements that brings inclusive lingerie to life: you can be sexy on your own terms; you can be sexy and still be comfortable.”
There’s also the shift toward self-care and shoppers looking for ways to treat themselves during the quarantine, even for singles. The Traackr survey found that within the same pool of influencers, post referencing “self-care” increased 21 percent in the last six weeks, with user engagement jumping 10 percent.
Sales throughout the industry also help illustrate this trend. At luxury lingerie boutique Journelle, site visits to the firm’s Sexual Wellness page — which sells female vibrators, backless panties and nipple covers, among other things — increased 37 percent from March 2020 to December 2020, compared with the previous year, while searches for “ouvert” (backless panties) increased 95 percent during the same period.
“People are looking for ways to treat themselves while at home and lingerie fits perfectly into that,” Lyons said.