Bali brings out discount lingerie line

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Bali Corp. will try to romance Kmart shoppers this Valentine's Day with Lovable, its first line of women's underwear for discount stores.

Lovable will arrive this month in mass merchants, including Kmart Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores, backed by advertising from Henderson Tyner Art Co., Winston-Salem, N.C. The campaign will include print, radio and interactive ads, as well as a new Web site (lovableusa.com).

Print breaks in the Feb. 14 issue of Time Inc.'s People, followed by ads in fashion and women's service books. Print ads feature a model showing off Lovable items, with copy such as "The beauty of the silent treatment is that he can still see you," with the tagline "Underneath, I'm Lovable."

The new line brings a "fun, funky, sexy attitude" to lingerie sold in mass-market retailers, said Jim Williams, director of mass marketing at Bali. The company bought the rights to the name last year from Lovable Co., a manufacturer shuttered due to bankruptcy.

The Lovable line includes bras and panties in fashion colors and designs. Items are priced from $3.99 to $7.99.

Bali plans to extend the line with sleepwear and loungewear in the fall and with hosiery for spring 2001, Mr. Williams said. The campaign also may be expanded to TV when the sleepwear line reaches stores for the back-to-school shopping season, he said.

FIRST MASS-MARKET LINE

This is Bali's first line for the mass market; the division of Sara Lee Corp. markets Bali, Wonderbra and Barelythere women's underwear through department stores. Sara Lee's Hanes Her Way, Hanes Sport and Just My Size brands also are sold through mass retailers.

Mr. Williams did not disclose spending for the campaign, but said it will be a significant effort. By comparison, Sara Lee spent $14 million in U.S. media for Bali Co.'s Barelythere in the first 10 months of 1999 and $11 million for Hanes Her Way, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Intimate apparel manufacturers have expanded their offerings for the mass market in recent years, as shoppers have shifted away from department stores. Last year, Sara Lee launched Hanes Sport, a mass-market activewear line that includes sports bras and other underwear items.

Among the competition, Jockey International also has plans to launch its first foray into the mass market in the spring with Formfit, a line of women's underwear initially available only at Target stores (AA, Feb. 7).

The manufacturers want to reach consumers who increasingly prefer to shop outside traditional department stores. According to figures from NPD Group, department stores' share of women's intimate apparel sales dropped to 16.2% in 1999 from 18.5% in 1994, while discount stores increased their share to 28.3% from 25.9%.

"It's a growing channel. . . . We have a very strong business with them," said Bali's Mr. Williams.

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