3 Tips to Expand Your Lingerie Company


“Its up to you to determine how much of that market share comes your way.”

A 2014 market analysis by IBISWorld found the lingerie industry, which includes all intimate apparel retailers and warehouses, is worth an estimated $13 billion. Its average annual growth has been 3.3 percent since 2009 and it currently employs about 60,000 workers.

Of course, L Brands, Inc. (formerly The Limited) and its signature Victoria’s Secret brand own about 43 percent of the market. No other lingerie company accounts for even 5 percent. Smaller intimate apparel retailers and warehouses have their work cut out for them to claim a larger share of the pie. It’s not only possible to do this, but even likely for business executives willing to think creatively. Here are three tips to get you started:

Plus-Size Apparel

Tia Lyn Lingerie

Above: Tia Lyn Lingerie.

The average fashion model in the mid-1990s weighed about 8 percent less than the average woman. Today, models weigh 23 percent less than “regular” women, according to an article in the January 2012 issue of Plus Model magazine. Fashionista.com wrote this past February that size 6 is now considered “plus-size” in the industry. To put that in perspective, Cindy Crawford was a size 6 at the height of her modeling career.

One way to gain an edge over the competition is to offer products they do not, especially since the demand is there. Kenyetta Jones, CEO of fashion line Bella Rene and star of WeTV’s “House Of Curves,” told the Huffington Post that lingerie retailers are making a big mistake by ignoring plus-size women. A June 2013 survey by ModCloth, an online retailer, found that 57 percent of American women wear clothing that is size 16 and up. Business Insider pointed out that, despite 67 percent of American women being considered plus size, the fashion industry basically ignores them.

Any lingerie company wanting to increase profits should offer so-called plus sizes. Consider crowdfunding your line of larger-sized lingerie to get started. Indiegogo and Kickstarter require you to offer incentives for contributors who give a certain amount. Offer a free pair of panties or bra, and even offer to feature them in upcoming advertisements if they so choose. You can even approach plus size blogs like GabiFresh.com and GirlsWithCurves.com to promote your products.

Don’t Forget the Gentlemen

Journelle UES store

Men love buying their wives and girlfriends lingerie, not only to make them feel good, but also so they get to see them wear it. The problem is most men are clueless as to what to buy and how to buy it.

A 2010 study conducted by The Perfume Shop found that 27 percent of men have bought their special lady underwear and other clothing that is the wrong size. Moreover, the study found 33 percent of these incidents resulted in serious arguments.

Journelle, a New York-based intimate apparel retailer, found the perfect solution for this conundrum. The company held a scotch-tasting night for men-only, which also featured lingerie buying tutorials from its staff. The keys to success is mixing a traditionally male activity with the teaching session, along with offering sale prices during the event. One idea is to combine a men’s lingerie educational forum with football. A Sunday packed with football, free beer, and women talking about lingerie sounds like a winner.

Advertise More

The only way a small lingerie firm can cut into Victoria’s Secret hold on the industry is placing its brand in front of more eyes. One way to do is by paying for promoted Facebook posts. The social media platform allows you to start out with a small budget, and guarantees placing your post in the timelines of those most likely to share the content or buy something.

Keep in mind, all the paid promoting in the world will not help if the content you post is not compelling and relevant to your industry. The J.G. Wentworth Facebook page is a good example for using Facebook as an advertising channel. The company posts information relevant to its audience, like financial tips and even educational posts that explain structured settlements and annuities. Your posts should include photos, videos, and links back to your website. Remember, you’re selling lingerie, so customers want to see it on people like them.

Don’t be afraid to open up your wallet for television advertising, either. A data analysis by MarketingCharts.com found that despite television audiences shrinking in the last five years, revenues have continued to grow. Some local stations give you the option of monthly payments.

The lingerie industry is showing no signs of slowing down. Its up to you to determine how much of that market share comes your way.

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