Co-branded marketing with LYCRA® brand
For the past three years, Gildan and The LYCRA Company have collaborated on a co-branded social media campaign to promote Secret® and Silks® hosiery and tights made with an array of LYCRA® brand fibers– including LYCRA® XCEPTIONELLE™ technology and LYCRA® FUSION™ technology– for style, shape and comfort. Last fall, the partners tapped seven influential fashion bloggers for a series of authentic Instagram and Facebook posts showcasing the legwear lines.
We spoke with Linda Fittler, Vice President of marketing and merchandising for the Secret® and Silks® brands, to learn more about the program and the role social media plays in the brands’ overall advertising mix.
How did you pick the influencers to represent your brands and connect with your core consumers?
We selected a range of influencers across generations and provided them with products that make sense for them to wear-test, given their day-to-day activities. These influencers have dedicated followers that closely match the consumer demographic we’re designing for, so the program has been a perfect match in many ways. For example, we worked with a local Toronto influencer, Meredith Shaw, to convey the benefits of the LYCRA® brand technologies we incorporate into our tights or hosiery to help women feel comfortable and confident throughout their day. Meredith has a devoted following, and she provided her fans with Facebook and Instagram posts of her wearing our tights made with LYCRA® XCEPTIONELLE technology. She also provided a video shown through an Instagram Story with a swipe up feature that led to the retailer link and provided a call to action to purchase the featured product. These proved to be really compelling ways to communicate with our core consumers.
Women have traditionally purchased tights and hosiery at retail, but social media and eCommerce are reshaping the legwear shopping experience. How is this trend impacting the way you reach different shoppers in different channels?
It’s certainly true that most hosiery has been purchased primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. To a large extent, it still is. But we’re working with key retailers to offer our full product line as part of their eCommerce portfolios. Most consumers have their favorites when it comes to tights and hosiery – and they know their correct sizing – so ensuring these are accessible online has provided added convenience. Social media has allowed us to utilize various channels to speak to specific demographics in ways that resonate, inform them about new products and technologies, and to let them know where to buy. We speak to Millennials through Instagram and YouTube, whereas Facebook is still a really important and effective way to reach Gen Xers and Boomers.
How have these shifts impacted your overall marketing mix?
We want to ensure we reach all shoppers with our diverse product offerings. Early on in the design process, we determine the features and benefits that are most important to a specific consumer segment. We develop products that are relevant to their everyday lifestyle needs and wants. Finally, how we package our products is as important as how we design them. So our creative services team works with our merchandising and design teams to ensure our packaging graphics resonate with the target shopper and provide aspirational and educational messaging on our features and benefits. Traditional advertising has shifted to a more digital focus. From a social media perspective, we partner with The LYCRA Company and a carefully selected group of influential bloggers who endorse our assortment of hosiery and tights.
Why is influencer marketing an effective way to reach the legwear shopper?
Research shows that legwear shoppers trust reviews or endorsements from friends or people they follow on social media more so than paid ad campaigns. That's why we seek out influencers with loyal followings. Showcasing our products, authentically and genuinely, via these influencers is a win-win for both Gildan and The LYCRA Company – and, most importantly, our consumers. The program has evolved nicely over the last three years; we’re getting some really good results and starting to map and compare to previous seasons. Legwear fashion is also just a lot of fun! There are always new exciting trends, mainly led by Millennials. Sheers and tights have traditionally been worn with dress pumps, stilettos or booties. But now Millennials are dressing them down with sneakers. That's a trend that started on Instagram. It’s all about creating your own identity and style. That’s what influencers do. They bring a unique spin, and their followers either copy them directly or take inspiration and make it their own.
Why do co-branding campaigns work?
Because we’re leveraging the complementary power, reach and reputation of our brands – which have such rich heritages and share a commitment to innovation. We both embrace our past and future. Features and functionality benefits are fueling the legwear and hosiery business, so being able to communicate about LYCRA® brand technologies in the realm of fashion and sustainability is truly powerful. We believe two heads are better than one… if they’re smart heads.