This summer, Vassarette will introduce Technoshine, a flashy line of bras and panties in fashion colors priced at less than $13. Advertising to support the launch will convey the brand's oxymoronic positioning as attractive, trendy lingerie that is also comfortable and affordable, said Terri Polk, director of marketing for Vassarette.
The effort, from the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and tagged "Sexy comfortable lingerie," will include print ads, promotions, in-store displays and an online component at the brand's Web site (vassarette.com). Ads break in the July 31 issue of People and the August issue of Mode to announce a promotion that will give away two $20,000 modeling contracts, one to an average-size and another to a plus-size contestant.
Ms. Polk did not disclose the budget for the campaign, but said Vassarette's 2000 efforts will include increased overall spending. Vassarette spent $5 million in measured media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Vassarette was a department store line until VF Corp. acquired it in 1990 for its Vanity Fair Intimates division and repositioned the brand in mass retail outlets. Today, in spite of its low profile and small advertising budget, it claims 19% of bra sales among mass retail outlets, ahead of Sara Lee Corp.'s Hanes, with 14.6%, and VF's own Bestform, with 11%, according to 1999 sales figures from NPD Group.
"A lot of people buy [Vassarette] and don't know they're buying it," Ms. Polk said. "We need to let them know they're buying the No. 1 brand in the U.S."
TEAMING WITH RETAILERS
Vassarette will team with retailers including Wal-Mart Stores, Kmart Corp. and Target Stores to develop in-store promotions for the launch. The company will also work with the magazines it advertises in, such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue, to create events and promotions as well as links between vassarette.com and the magazines' Web sites, Ms. Polk said.
Vassarette is up against a growing line of competitors. This spring alone, mass-market hosiery brands L'eggs and Kayser-Roth Corp.'s No Nonsense both expanded into women's underwear, while Bali Corp. -- a sibling L'eggs brand under the Sara Lee umbrella -- and Jockey International each introduced new mass-market lingerie lines.
On Valentine's Day, Bali introduced Lovable, its first line of mass market women's underwear, into discount stores including Kmart and Wal-Mart (AA, Feb. 7, et seq.) Weeks later, Jockey launched Formfit, a line of women's intimate apparel exclusively at Target. Those launches were followed by last month's introductions of L'eggs Intimates and No Nonsense Intimates.
Jockey, L'eggs and No Nonsense also tout comfort and affordability. Bali adds more of a fashion spin to its pitch.
The manufacturers are after consumers who increasingly prefer to shop outside traditional department stores. According to NPD figures, 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%.