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The Role of Social Media in the Intimate Apparel Industry
wilson
#1 Posted : Tuesday, November 01, 2011 10:49:35 AM(UTC)

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Don't Underestimate it
Social Media as a means of marketing a product or brand is becoming increasingly important. However, I think that companies and brands are still underestimating the power of social media and of bloggers. It is still relatively new to everyone and is changing rapidly. An independent fashion blogger has the ability to generate buzz for a brand, and can ultimately put a little-known brand on the map. Emerging brands have the ability to gain exposure by implementing a "grassroots" marketing campaign utilizing social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. And blogging is a key component in this type of campaign.

"An independent fashion blogger has the ability to generate buzz for a brand, and can ultimately put a little-known brand on the map"

Earlier this year, Ellen M. Lewis, founder of Intimate Apparel Concepts (an intimate apparel consulting company) and the website Lingerie Briefs, moderated a panel discussion for The Underfashion Club on "Social Media in the Intimate Apparel Industry." She reported that blogs are the number one method of search engine optimization (seo) which translates into driving viewers to your site. To me, this says, if you are a brand or business trying to compete in today's marketplace, you better jump on the blogger bandwagon… FAST! You need to either develop your own blog or newsletter or you better be prepared to work with independent bloggers to promote your brand, product, or business.



Power of Blogs & Bloggers
Consumers are now relying on the opinions of bloggers as they are becoming advocates or ambassadors of brands, or thought leaders on topics relevant to their area of expertise. Today's consumer is much savvier than she was in the past. She no longer relies on the multi-million dollar advertising campaigns generated by brands with money in the bank (traditional advertising). In fact, I would go so far as to say that she probably views this type of advertising with a bit of skepticism now that she is empowered with a little bit of knowledge.

"Bloggers have 'humanized' marketing"

Today's consumer wants to know what her peers think. Bloggers make that possible. She is more likely to read and believe in the opinions of a blogger that she can identify with. Bloggers have "humanized" marketing. It's as if the blogger is saying, "Hey, I'm a mom like you. I get you. I understand your struggles. I have to drop kids off for soccer practice, pop into the Target for paper towels, and prepare a healthy home-cooked meal all at the same time too. This is how I do it. And these are the brands and products that help me to do it more efficiently."

Conversation is King
Social media and blogging are becoming essential means of marketing for all products and brands including Intimate Apparel. This method of marketing is only in its infancy. If we look at where the internet was ten years ago, it is difficult to fathom where it will be in another ten years. I suggest business and brands start thinking about it now. And, I want to note that I believe it is important in both B2C and B2B. If brands want to communicate with and engage with consumers, they better be prepared to build relationships with bloggers. And the same holds true for businesses that want to promote themselves to potential clients and buyers. This method of marketing is not exclusive to B2C. And it's not going to go away anytime soon! The good news is that it can be much less expensive than traditional methods of marketing. But, social media marketing should just be one component of a company's overall marketing spend. At this stage, we cannot rely solely on social media marketing. But it should definitely be considered an important part of a company's strategic marketing plan. Don't underestimate what it can do for your brand or business.

Who's Doing it "Right"
There are several intimate apparel brands which I feel are doing a great job utilizing social media. Here in the U.S., Hanky Panky and Cosabella have a strong presence on the web and are actively engaging with consumers. The consumer can put a "face to the name."

"Social media is here and it's here to stay. The bandwagon is gone," Guido Campello, Cosabella.



I recently spoke with Guido Campello, Cosabella's vice president of sales, branding and innovation. Regarding Cosabella's social media marketing efforts, he said "Social media is here and it's here to stay. The bandwagon is gone. At this point, we're gauging metrics, ROI, etc. We're analyzing the various platforms to determine what's working. Is it blogging? Is it Facebook? Twitter? We're looking for partners in other countries. We're expanding our social media into other languages. Social networking is its own economy. Borders don't exist anymore. We're thinking globally…. For example, what's the Twitter in China?" The popular brand Hanky Panky has created the "panty panel" which consists of a handful of employees that "tweet" from the "Park Avenue Panty Palace" (aka Hanky Panky's corporate headquarters in NYC). It's brilliant! As a consumer, I want to know what's happening behind the scenes. And I want to feel like I can potentially have an impact on the products I buy. And trust me, Hanky Panky is listening! When the consumer shares an opinion or comments on how much they love the brand, you can be sure that Hanky Panky hears it loud and clear. Don’t believe me? Check out the Hanky Panky blog "Life, Love, Lace." The blog contains the "Thong Diary" which consists of posts written by real consumers sharing their stories and comments about Hanky Panky's Original Thong.
In the U.K., the newcomer on the scene is a full-busted brand called Curvy Kate. Curvy Kate has only been around a few, short years. But they've come on the scene and made quite an impression. And the bulk of their marketing has been a "grassroots" social media campaign. Curvy Kate is active on the internet and appeals to the "everywoman." Rather than hire expensive models to promote their brand, they conducted a model search called "Star in a Bra." All of the Curvy Kate models are amateurs who submitted themselves to be the face and bust of the brand. And the best part is that we get to be the judge! Curvy Kate posts the images and profiles of the competitors online and on their Facebook page, and the Winner is selected based on number of votes. These are just a few of the ways that Intimate Apparel brands are effectively utilizing social media to build brand equity and to promote themselves to the end buyer.

My Involvement
I became engaged with the Intimate Apparel community online earlier this year and I was blown away by the breadth of information that was available. There are literally thousands of websites, resources and, of course, blogs. Many blogs have a very loyal following and the most effective blogs have a clear mission and tackle just one area of expertise.

After listening and learning on the web for several months, I developed my own website, www.BraLaMode.com. Having worked for several well-respected, privately-held, wholesale Intimate Apparel companies for over a decade, I have had the opportunity to work in virtually all aspects of the business. My experience includes new business development, sales, marketing and pr, concept, design, product development, merchandising, brand development and branding, sourcing, quality control, pre-production and production. Because of my vast background, I felt that I had something to contribute to the Intimate Apparel community online. Bra La Mode was launched just over a month ago and the response has been tremendous. My site has taken on a life of its own. In fact, I am in the process of making a few key changes to the site based on the feedback I have received from the Intimate Apparel community. I set out with one mission in mind, but now it has evolved into something else. In business, I've learned that you have to give people what they want! So, that’s what I'm doing with Bra La Mode.

"Bra La Mode is a resource for professionals in the Intimate Apparel industry and related fields," – Moira Nelson

Bra La Mode is a resource for professionals in the Intimate Apparel industry and related fields. Bra La Mode takes an Intimate look inside Intimates, featuring event coverage of Intimate Affairs, intimate interviews with Intimate Insiders, and opinion pieces providing Intimate Insights. I've discovered that there isn't a central location for a professional in this business to find out what's happening or to get the "inside scoop." Bra La Mode fills that need. It is an intimate look inside the business of intimates. The site includes a calendar of upcoming Intimate Affairs. If you are planning an Intimate Apparel Event in the NYC area, please let me know so that it can be posted on the Bra La Mode site. And, be sure we get an invite so we can attend the event and report on it, providing our readers with the "inside intimates scoop."

About Moira Nelson:
Moira Nelson has worked in the wholesale Intimate Apparel industry for over a decade. Having worked for several well-respected, privately-held, wholesale Intimate Apparel companies, Moira has had the opportunity to work in virtually all aspects of the business. Her experience includes new business development, sales, marketing and pr, concept, design, product development, merchandising, brand development and branding, sourcing, quality control, pre-production and production.

Throughout her career, she has managed business in all tiers of the retail market including mass market retailers, off-price chains, national chains, national specialty stores, mid-tier and specialty department stores as well as individually owned specialty stores and boutiques. Moira has managed private label brand business, in-house brands, national brands, emerging brands, as well as licensed brands in various categories including foundations, daywear, loungewear, sleepwear, shapewear and swimwear. Within these categories, she has experience working with core basic ("replenishment") and fashion ("seasonal") product in Junior, Young Contemporary, Modern Missy, Missy and Traditional styling in average figure and full figure size ranges.

Moira has worked in executive offices, showrooms, sample rooms and factories domestically and internationally. She has traveled overseas extensively to Hong Kong and mainland China as well as to Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Moira stays abreast of worldwide business trends in ition to intimate apparel market news/industry trends. She shops the stores in all tiers of the market on a regular basis to maintain her knowledge of each retailer's business model, new product offerings, innovative marketing strategies, brand identity, assortments and merchandising methods, retail price points, target demographics, etc. And she has travelled domestically and internationally to attend world-renowned Intimate Apparel trade fairs such as Mode City and Interfiliere.

Moira is a member of the Underfashion Club, the Intimate Apparel Square Club and Independent Lingerie Professionals.
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