MAIDENFORM FASHIONS WONDERBRA CHALLENGER

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Big things are happening in the bra market these days, thanks to the Wonderbra, and the message hasn't been lost on Maidenform.

Overall bra sales were up 9.8% for the first three quarters of 1994 to $2.2 billion. By October 1994, 20.6% of all consumer dollars spent on bras were generated by push-ups compared with only 14.4% in the same period of 1993, reported NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. The researcher attributed the jump in sales to Sara Lee Foundation's Wonderbra.

Named to top 10 product lists in 1994 by Fortune, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Time, Newsweek and Advertising Age, the Wonderbra recently won a Special Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for its contribution to fashion. And Wonderbra is on track to hit projected first-year sales of $120 million.

Next up for Wonderbra is the spring launch of Anywear, outerwear bras that can be worn under an open shirt or by themselves, plus a new line of figure enhancing swimwear. TBWA, New York, handles advertising.

While many lingerie companies already have their own versions of the Wonderbra, not all have been aggressively supported.

But now Maidenform plans to market the new It Really Works push-up bra in a $6 million-plus print and TV ad campaign. The effort from Ogilvy & Mather breaks this month.

Maidenform always has been a leader in push-up bras, and the company claims an overall share of 70% of the push-up and demi segments.

Though Maidenform doesn't break out market share for individual bras, VP-Marketing Susan Malinowski said even without advertising, "the product just flew off the shelf when it was first introduced" last fall.

The company's most popular cleavage-enhancing bra is the Rendezvous Push-Up. Introduced in the fall of 1993, more than a year before the Wonderbra was launched in the U.S., it has been mentioned in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, McCall's and Mirabella. But, while the company claims unit sales of the Rendezvous increased 250% in 1994, Maidenform's entries have not received the same kind of press attention as the flood of stories that greeted the Wonderbra.

Spread ads for three different lines of bras, including It Really Works, will run throughout 1995, coinciding with in-store promotional events. The ads will appear in Ladies' Home Journal, People, Vogue, Glamour, Allure and Redbook.

For a TV campaign set to air in March, Maidenform is taking part in a syndicated program called "Main Floor," an infomercial that brings viewers into department stores and displays the latest styles, specifically showing the sponsor's merchandise.

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