What role do bloggers play in the intimate apparel industry?
by Cheryl Warner, www.investinyourchest.co.uk
My blog has been live for exactly a year today (18th October 2011) and this has got me thinking about what role blogs really play in the intimate apparel industry today? To get an insight, I spoke to various bloggers, retailers and manufacturers to see if there really is a communication gap between lingerie bloggers and companies, and to what extent utilizing bloggers and how their influence can benefit business.
Due to an overwhelming response from my little questionnaire I’ve split the post into four to discuss some of the most prominent questions raised and those which sparked the most interesting debate.
I think the key thing to consider from the answers I received is that they are a mixture of professional and consumer opinions; some are bloggers who post opinion pieces, news and reviews in their spare time, some are big manufacturing companies with a worldwide customer base.
What role do you think bloggers play in the intimate apparel industry?
Ann-Marie Manley, Head of Marketing at Eveden
Bloggers continue to be an important part of the intimate apparel sector. Blogs are a great way to express yourself and to write about the things you are passionate about, it’s also such a great, honest and authentic platform to discuss your opinions and its really refreshing to read something that you know is absolutely authentic. Many key bloggers within the lingerie sector have a great social presence on Facebook and Twitter as well as fantastic blog following, so it’s really important you consider the amount of people they influence and the impact they have with what they write.
Jill Homiak, owner of new clothing store for full figures – Presenza
There’s no doubt that blogging is vital. It’s evident that blogs create a following out of the need for people to get, what they feel, is unbiased information.
It’s always a great way for women to find niche products or products that are new to them that they don’t have the time to search out.
Aline Machado, Bella Bella Boutique
It’s great to hear each blogger’s personal point of view, experiences, and recommendations. Since it’s a personal evaluation/taste, make sure to follow those who are the same and/or close to your style of preference. It’s always refreshing to hear people’s opinions outside the industry; it carries a lot of value.
Laura Cohen, owner of online lingerie retailer Lembrassa
I think bloggers play a significant role in the apparel industry by providing personal and detailed feedback on everything from bras to hosiery to swimwear and even nightwear. With consumers having less time to shop, the internet is fast becoming the place to go for intimate apparel. However this means women are unable to try before they buy so reading reviews and feedback from bloggers is becoming a normal part of the buying process.
Treacle, writer and editor of The Lingerie Addict
I’m honestly not sure if bloggers play any role in the intimate apparel industry. There are a lot of independent lingerie blogs and lingerie bloggers, but the mainstream industry itself seems reluctant embrace blogging and other forms of digital media.
Hannah Houston, Marketing Manager of Curvy Kate
Lingerie is such a personal thing and every person is different, as is every bra brand. Bloggers offer a (usually) unbiased opinion of a variety of products on the market. Bloggers are crucial in the intimate apparel industry as more people than ever now look to forums, blogs and social media before buying. Quality has become just as important cost as we all wants things to last longer and withstand wear and tear. Bloggers give their opinions and encourage other people to share how they have found a product – which in turn makes people’s choices more likely to be right first time. It seems people are more likely to trust what the public are saying than the brands themselves sometimes, as the public won’t mislead you and will offer both points good and bad.
As a new brand it is particularly important as the public are less like to know about the ranges. Once they find a blog with Curvy Kate fittings on it will encourage them to buy.
Michelle Crowe, contributor to the Figleaves blog ‘Blogleaves’
In an industry such as lingerie, where others opinions on products and services are highly regarded, blogging does play an influential role. For an increasing number of women, fit and support are major factors in purchasing lingerie – blogging enables customers to share their experiences with particular styles or brands more easily.
Kitty, blogger at Undercover Lingerista
I would consider the role of the blogger to be very important. People often look to bloggers to review lingerie, offer advice and share new products and companies. Many rely on bloggers to keep them updated with changes in the industry, key events and previews for new collections. I feel that there is a new generation of lingerie blogger gurus on the rise!
Jennifer Carroll, expert lingerie fitter, stylist and owner of Bellefleur Lingerie
Intimate Apparel bloggers provide insight to consumers and retailers, alike, in that they include opinions and reviews on various trends and brands in the marketplace. They also give a keen insight to manufacturers and wholesalers of what’s trending and provide good intelligence on what the industry should be paying attention to.
Nikki Hesford, Company Director at Miss Fit UK and the Big Bra Bar
The role of bloggers is becoming increasingly influential – for online retailers & niche brands you can achieve better conversion & brand awareness from well-placed blog reviews & updates than printed PR in the media. The ability to link to your website in a blog, & for the keywords to significantly help organic search engine listings is vital in effective online promotion, & unlike printed media, readers are able to add comments & testimonials to an online blog post.
Georgina Horne, blogger of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust
I think bloggers play a vital role. I believe that as more and more women are begging for diversity in model’s shapes and sizes the bloggers are the answer. Whether they show photos or not they all come in different shapes, sizes, colours, preferences and so on and they are often more influential and representative of today’s society. They are also honest (hopefully) about the products and whether they do really live up to the hype.
Ellen Lewis, Lingerie Briefs
This is a loaded question because some blogs are truly well written and informative, sharing insights and product that is not easily accessible to consumers. Others regurgitate information “lifted” from sites and are not really providing knowledge. On Lingerie Briefs, we have a specific mission and we are very careful to adhere to this niche. We are providing merchandising and product insight that is based on in depth analysis of the market. The products I cover reflect what I personally, based on 30 plus years in this industry would carry in a store.
Michele Poynter, Owner of online retailer business Mish Online
Bloggers play an important role in supporting or standing up for minority groups of consumers, for example, Bust for Justice’s campaign against M&S that charge more for bras in larger cup sizes. Also much of the pressure for a greater range of 28 back bras has come from bloggers. As the owner of an independent lingerie and swimwear business Mish Online, this can be a double edge sword. On the one hand it is great to know what consumers want from a relatively independent source but from experience it is often the smallest groups that can shout the loudest. Which means when, for example the topic is a particular size e.g. K cups although I want to make sure these consumers are catered for they are almost always left, and end up on the sale rail.
Becky Mount, Curvy Kate and Brastop
I think nowadays bloggers play an up-and-coming role in the intimate apparel industry. It’s no secret that blogging has been celebrated in the fashion world, the beauty industry etc. but in the past couple of years there has not only been a boom in underwear bloggers, but how they’re viewed. Companies are quickly realising that they should either be interacting with bloggers, or have their own team. They’re still a niche but they’re absolutely snowballing and looking to take over the lingerie world! I definitely feel they’re becoming detrimental to lingerie brands and it’s a trend I don’t see disappearing.
Darlene Campbell, author of the Hourglassy blog and owner of Campbell and Kate
I see bloggers playing 3 important roles: (1) a mouthpiece for consumers to let manufacturers know what they want; (2) a way to help other consumers get beneath the marketing hype to discover what really works for them; and (3) a way to disseminate information about niche products to the niche markets that manufacturers are trying to reach.
Many of the opinions correlate in favour of the role of bloggers being an important one, however I think that Treacle’s observation that there is still a reluctance to utilise bloggers as a form of product discussion and promotion is very much correct. In today’s society which is so linked up in social media platforms and avenues for up to speed free information about products, peer sharing and subscriptions, I think any company who may be hesitant to approach bloggers may be missing a trick.
As a blogger myself I’m not sure to what extent I’ve influenced the intimate apparel industry but I know I’ve definitely helped many readers find lingerie which they’re enjoyed since I get emails and comments telling me so every day. It would be helpful to have lingerie companies work with me a bit more since most of my market research at the moment comes from my own pocket which financially can be difficult to maintain, plus companies approaching me is an invaluable way for me to discover new brands to try and therefore pass my feedback on to my readers. One thing I’ve learnt from blogging is how hesitant people are to trying new brands particularly ones which will have expensive long distance shipping or no returns service, and if nothing more I see lingerie blogging as a way of bridging that gap.
I’d like to thank all who kindly offered their time in answering these questions. It’s fascinating that the majority of both bloggers and merchants both seem to highly value blog power, do you agree with their answers? I’d be interested to hear any testimonials of any company who has directly benefitted from blog exposure – if you have and are willing to share your experience please do get in touch!
Next up, I asked many of the same intimate apparel masterminds and professionals the question: ‘Is blogging a vital aspect of social media?’
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