The thinking behind Bras N Things brand repositioning

The #metoo movement and evolving cultural perceptions of women have actively informed the intimate apparel retailer's brand rethink

Keeping up with evolving perceptions around women in media and communications and celebrating their multi-faceted and diverse natures has led Bras N Things to shake up its brand positioning.

Bras N Things debuted its new brand moniker and look, ‘I am many things’, this week, aimed at reflecting women’s multi-dimensionality. The campaign has been produced in partnership with creative agency, Fabric Sydney, part of the TBWA Sydney group.

The intimate apparel retailer is hoping the new creative, messaging, style of photography and diversity of women used better showcases every aspect of female character, from sassy, loud and playful to quiet and relaxed. As well as a strict policy to avoid any retouching, the campaign employs more full-length photography of a range of physically and ethnically diverse women, including Cameron Stephens, Geneve Benatar, Susanna Oinonen and Nya Leth.

It’s also designed to illustrate the wide array of products on offer, from sexy fashion to comfort and everyday wear.

Bras N Things group general manager, Tanya Deans, told CMO the brand positioning is a response to evolving global and Australian sentiment around women and how they should be both treated and respected.

Having taken up the group GM role at Bras N Things 12 months ago after a career in brand and marketing management for clothing icons such as Hanes, Bonds and Berlei, Deans also encouraged the business to explore different thinking around its go-to-market approach.

 “The #Me Too moment was a massive catalyst for this, and not before time,” she said. “We reviewed the way we position ourselves and the opportunities existing in light of this evolved cultural thinking.”  

While Bras N Thing was a very successful and profitable business, Deans expressed concern the brand “would be left stranded” if it wasn’t seen to be evolving its positioning given the cultural context.

“It wasn’t so much that internal beliefs were not moving with the times, but that the positioning would find us stranded and women would start to quite rightly vote with their feet and say this is an outdated perspective on who they are. Women are diverse, complex and many things,” she said. “We had fantastic support from the management and executive teams from an Australasian point of view to consider making the shift we needed as a brand to future proof our business. We were buoyed by that to do the right thing.”

As the mum of a teenage daughter, Deans is all-too aware of the need to change the way women are portrayed in media and through communications and for brands and society to adopt a healthier view.

“We wanted to not just address the diversity aspect, including ethnicity, but also explore women as multifaceted,” she continued. “It wasn’t about necessarily taking the brand into a completely safe space and give up our ‘sexy’ positioning or fashion element, or to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It was to harness that and also emphasise being self-empowered.

“We want to make sure we project ourselves and those attributes and outlooks that are evolving and embrace all sides of who she is. It’s exhibiting confidence no matter what side. Diversity is within all women, and we have multi-faceted characters.”

A more cultural sensitive environment

Deans said the business arrived at this new positioning well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but agreed the heightened sensitivity and respectfulness exhibiting by communities during this time reaffirmed the approach was also the right one.

“This recognition of the need for being kind and respectful of people’s individual choices has more than consolidated our thinking around this positioning,” Deans said. “There will be probably be more focus on feeling comfortable in my every day, given we’re more at home at this time, and we have also seen playwear sales increasing as people’s behaviour at home is changing. This crisis just confirmed we were 100 per cent on the right track.

“There is heightened sensitivity and we need to be aware of that with any of this kind of work. We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously, but to play our part really well.”  

Brans N Things national marketing manager, Natalie Chalmers, was keen to make sure the campaign transcended beyond a media and visual play in 2020 and said the team has worked to ensure momentum behind it is part of the organisation’s daily rhythm. She’s also ensuring it’s exhibited through communications with the brand’s loyal customer database, in-store teams and social channels.

“We’re very conscious in launching something like this that you can run a campaign then it falls on the backburner,” she said. “So we have worked to position ourselves internally with our positioning and vision, to ensure it’s part of everything we do. We are passionate about allowing women to express themselves and to feel comfortable in their skin.”

Bras N Things’ research and feedback showed the attitudes of its core customer group, which generally sits between 24 and 35 years of age, was changing in light with the #Me too movement, so the campaign is designed to grow those relationships. And over recent months, Chalmers said the marketing team has launched several initiatives to tighten connection with existing customers.

One of these was launching #Support your girls, another was a new blog offering tips and tricks for getting through the lockdown, including Yoga, books to read and showcasing what the network was doing to build connections in the community.

“This time has been an opportunity to really connect with our existing consumers… which I don’t think we’ve really had the chance to do in the past,” Chalmers commented. “We’ll continue to grow this incredibly strong community and network we have through both our database we send our emails out through to as well as our social channels.”

But Dean and Chalmers are also hoping other cohorts of women who haven’t come into the stores before or not given the brand much thought will see its appeal.

“We hope with this new brand positioning to invite more customers into our world, and get others to rethink us,” Deans said.  

In addition, Chalmers said the brand has historically has been perceived by several as a gifting brand, whereas the reality is it offers products covering the whole lifespan. “It’s important everyone we talk to is aware of the categories we have in this business,” she said.  

As a result, the visual campaign and activity showcases the broad array of products available at the “product dense retailer”, Deans said. While some tweaks have been made to the product strategy to ensure it’s as diverse as possible, such as a push for additional styles to offer fuller figure options, she added Bras N Things hasn’t had to change the product offer significantly because the options were already there.

Ultimately, Deans wanted women to be comfortable in the retailer’s space, whether it’s virtual or physical. “And if they’re in-store, we can help with the conversion side through our fitting services, and our well-trained teams who can turn what can be an awful experience into a positive one,” she said.

“Walking out and feeling great – that’s our magic. By bringing them in we can do more ourselves to improve that experience.

“It’s about becoming a loved brand as opposed to being loved by some, and where we are respected by others. And I want us to be part of that bigger group leading change so the next generation of people are less concerned by external appearances and fitting one mould.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.      

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