What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 3 of 4

Do you think companies should take advantage of bloggers and do you think they really benefit from the exposure?

by Cheryl Warner, www.investinyourchest.co.uk

It’s not an uncommon thought that using the medium of blogging for the purposes of advertising is a somewhat risky business. Building B2B (Business 2 Blogger) relationships can be tricky, sometimes it feels a bit like being in an internet relationship. Companies have been unhappy with what I’ve said on Invest In Your Chest in the past, more often than not in a ‘it’s not what you said it’s the way you said it’ kind of way; things get lost in translation or sometimes people don’t get quite the reaction they were looking for.

Independent bloggers can be a high risk medium due to the fact that (one would assume) they’re completely unbiased and unsponsored literature. This all comes hand in hand with ethical blogging and paid sponsorship of posts and ‘free’ samples, and this is something that can make companies (and readers!) cautious. On my blog I welcome ‘free’ samples as I simply cannot fund a blog which already costs a significant amount to run in petrol, trains, hosting, design and time expenses without adding what could essentially be a bottomless pit of reviews, trips to cover and costly design invoices. My pockets and my credit rating have taken a whack from this before and it got to a point where my blog and my bank balance reached a bit of a stale mate.

Fortunately I’ve learnt to balance receiving and sourcing samples, relationships with companies and of course still many of my own purchases to maintain the blog, but some things had to give. This is, essentially where the relationship with companies and blogs step in – and I’m not necessarily talking about large costly parcels of your latest collection, even an introductory email with an attached press release is enough to spark the interest of a blogger, and if you keep it as personal and product-focussed as possible, if your product is something which sparks the bloggers interest or correlates with their ‘niche’ it can be enough to spark a dynamic and rewarding partnership.

As a blogger, I see it as my role to show my readers the products, companies, tips and tricks that have benefitted me via my own research and experiences, so they don’t have to. I try to keep it an entertaining light read, but anything that might provide an insight into a company that I’ve newly discovered and enjoyed are some of the posts that I enjoy writing the most. For instance, Parfait by Affinitas approached me with an offer to send me some products to try, I ended up falling head over heels with the brand and their reviews became some of my most viewed posts of the year.

But what about the bad effects of blogging? As a PR Manager, company owner or marketeer, independent blogs can be one of the most volatile forms of marketing – essentially because their priority is not your brand, it’s their readers. I spoke to my expert panel about their take on this tricky subject –

Do you think companies should take advantage of bloggers and do you think they really benefit from the exposure?

 

Becky-Mount150pxBecky Mount, Curvy Kate and Brastop: 100% yes, to both. It’s essentially free advertising, especially if it’s a big and influential blog with a lot of readers. Whilst most bloggers aren’t in it for the freebies, it’s a nice perk and you’ll find most individuals will only review an item/brand if they want to know, not for the goods. It’s not that companies should take advantage of willing bloggers, that sounds so sinister (!), but if they can form that relationship, the company will reap the rewards. It seems mad that companies don’t interact with bloggers! For new brands it’s a great way of establishing an online presence which, lets face it, these days is absolutely paramount to a company’s success. Bloggers out there are more than happy to help companies out, so it’s a win/win situation for both parties. A few free samples costs very little to a company but the repercussions can be unbelievable.

 

Laura Cohen, owner of lingerie e-tailer Lembrassa: This is a very interesting question and something we have been discussing a lot lately. Lembrassa has had a number of reviews on blogs from bloggers who purchased items and later went on to review them. We definitely think this is great exposure for us as a small but growing company. However as I mentioned above, as a company we have no say on what is reviewed and our site visitors do not automatically benefit from the information in these reviews.

I think companies should definitely work with bloggers and believe the best way to do that is to sometimes have independent bloggers review products for company blogs so that visitors to the company blog can benefit from these reviews.

 

Beckie Williams of Busts 4 JusticeBeckie Williams, creator and author of busts4justice.com and a social media strategist: Take advantage is not the phrase I would use, but I think companies who don’t integrate a blogger strategy in to their digital plans are missing a trick. Companies need to embrace their advocates and engage with their critics to maximise their reach.

  

aline machado bella bella boutiqueAline Machado, Bella Bella Boutique: Sure! You must diversify and expand your reach throughout different channels. Bloggers should be part of your marketing plan.

 
 
 

Ann-Marie, Head of Marketing at Eveden: If a blogger is really interested in your industry/sector and has a genuine passion and desire for your brand and products, gaining their opinions and views can be great feedback for you.  With an increasing number of consumers becoming internet savvy, many women like reading blogs just as much as a magazine.  For us, we like to work in partnership with bloggers and they play a key part in our outreach, we liaise with them just the same we do as any other member of the press. 

 

Jill Homiak, owner of new clothing store for full figures – Presenza: There’s no doubt companies should partner with bloggers! It’s clear that blogs create a niche following and if a product fits into that niche too, it’s a win-win for the company and the blogger!

 
 
 

Michele Poynter, Owner of online retailer business Mish Online: I think some companies already take advantage of bloggers; I certainly do at Mish Online. But it would be fair to say that you only want to appear in a blog for the right reasons! When you look at product views for example, getting an independent blogger to review an item can often be cheaper than traditional forms of advertising and can sometimes be more affective as the blog is not seen as advertising. 

 

Ellen Lewis, Lingerie Briefs: Yes to both questions.  I know for a fact that brands have gained exposure, for example, from my blog because they have told me so.

 
 

Hannah Houston, marketing Manager of Curvy Kate: Yes! Whether good or bad feedback – it is all exposure and if a problem with fit, look, shape is unearthed it only means that you’ll now be able to go about solving the issue.

 
 

Darlene Campbell, owner of Campbell and Kate: Companies should definitely take advantage of bloggers, but it has to be more than, “Would you let your readers know about our sale?”, etc.  And bloggers aren’t simply looking for free hand-outs in the form of review samples and giveaways.  If companies take the time to develop relationships with bloggers, everyone benefits–the company, the blogger, and the blog reader.  For example, I’ve met with the same Eveden rep at the two CurveNY expos I’ve gone to now.  When we saw each other again in August, I could pick up with questions about product developments she’d told me to look for in February.  When I visit lingerie stores, I’m able to ask educated questions about Eveden products based on my relationship with this rep.  Best of all, I’m able to educate my readers.

 

Kitty, blogger at Undercover Lingerista: I agree that companies should reach out to bloggers, as their role seems to be growing in the online arena. Companies can benefit from blog exposure if the reader following is there.

 

Catherine, Kiss Me Deadly: I don’t think anyone should ever take advantage of anyone else. I do think brands should get over this thing where they prioritise print press, because its highly illogical in the age of internet retail, and figure out that what they need to do with bloggers is exactly the same as print – work out which ones are important (for you) and find a mutually beneficial way of working together. Oh, and don’t expect bloggers just to do what you want. Like any good publisher, they get readers by publishing content that’s interesting for the reader, not what’s best for you – and that’s why you wanted to be on their site in the first place so let them get on with it.

 

Treacle, writer and editor of The Lingerie Addict: Yes, I absolutely think brands benefit from exposure when they work with bloggers. Bloggers may not have the reach of a Vogue or a Glamour or a Marie Claire, but what we do have is a tightly knit audience that wants to hear what we have to say. It’s human nature to trust recommendations from your friends more than recommendations from strangers, and blogging is just another version of that.

This was the area I was most interested to explore in this series. I was fascinated to see what retailers really think of bloggers, and to what extent they find the exposure beneficial. I think it’s fascinating that in my months of researching this topic I’ve been contacted by readers with great feedback and comments about how bloggers really influence their purchase power, or how a blog mention can have a really positive result in sales or brand awareness. It seems like people are finally starting to sit up and realise the power of the internet, or as Ann-Marie Manley so aptly put it: ‘many women like reading blogs just as much as a magazine’. I certainly agree that a blog can have a much higher quality of readers for products such as intimate apparel, particularly in niche sectors such as the full bust, small bust, mastectomy, etc., as people go looking for these kinds of articles via search engines for the information and products they so desperately need. Reviews are a particularly efficient way of attracting attention to a brand as the blogger not only discusses the product and its effectiveness, the format of the blog is well known to be favoured by search engines and therefore, readers.

I know blogs are a bit of a mixed bag so it’s hard to decipher exactly how they benefit a retailer. Bloggers have a bit of a reputation of doing it for the ‘free stuff’, but I hope this view has changed thanks to the huge increase in bloggers who have carved themselves a dedicated and loyal readership and seem to have every good intention. The risk factor – as with any independent media and any third party – remains, and in my opinion it is this reaction to the product that is the deciding factor when utilising bloggers. If you’re confident about your product and you believe you’ve got something that will benefit a blog’s readership, you’ve no reason to assume that the blogger won’t agree with you.

Read the Full Series

What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 1 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 2 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 3 of 4
What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 4 of 4

5 Comments on “What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 3 of 4

  1. Avatar Treacle says:

    Blogging is so expensive, in terms of both time and resources (at least if you want to blog the right way) that how anyone could think a blogger is “just in it for the free stuff” is beyond me. A $50 bra in no way, shape, or form pays for the dozens of hours I spend on my blog (and its related platforms) each week.

    Like Catherine said, it’s about finding mutually beneficial partnerships. If brands start off with the intention of exploiting bloggers (often by demanding way too much for way too little), then they can’t be surprised when their blogging strategy falls to pieces.

  2. I actually think bloggers should go one bettter and create their own blog, that is more than just articles about lingerie.

  3. Avatar Jillian says:

    I personally am not a blogger although I contemplate starting one soon. When I read the blogs highlighting these companies, I feel that I am getting a REAL PERSON view of a product. And when I comment to the blogger, I get a REAL PERSON answer to my query. I’m an American woman living with extremely large UK sized breasts. With the international bloggers, I can get better results through the works they do. I was during nowhere really on my own. I’d be stuck in the wrong size, in some God awful color and unwilling to spend money. You companies want happy, well fitted customers so we keep coming back. Keep the bloggers; they help those of us in countries where the masses think cup sizes stop at DDD!!!!!!!

  4. […] Industry? Part 1 of 4 What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 2 of 4 What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 3 of 4 What Role Do Bloggers Play in the Intimate Apparel Industry? Part 4 of […]

  5. Treacle, writer and editor of The Lingerie Addict. I like this women.

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