To Each, Her Own: How Data is Changing the Lingerie Industry

Lingerie newcomer ThirdLove is taking personalized customer experiences to a whole new level.

Heidi Zak, CEO and co-founder of ThirdLove, was inspired to start her disruptive lingerie line after an unpleasant experience in a competitor’s store. Zak stopped in this store after work one day, determined to find a comfortable bra before an event that evening. Instead, she found blaring music, cloyingly sweet scents, sales assistants with measuring tapes, and a stack of bras that didn’t fit comfortably.

Zak knew she’d outgrown the shopping experience that this store offered. But at the other end of the spectrum from their “fun,” youthful styles were plain, practical, wide-strapped “mom bras,” which didn’t appeal to her either.

In the gap between these two seemingly disparate options, Zak recognized a business opportunity. She set out to completely re-imagine the bra shopping experience, offering a middle ground to shoppers like herself who were dissatisfied with the options available to them.

Rather than telling customers what they needed — sexy lace and frills if you’re young, practical and plain if you’re older, a strict set of sizes that you have to fit into — Zak prioritized listening to customers’ needs. She wanted to build a brand that was authentic, customer-obsessed, and offered a superior product. In other words: ThirdLove.

Simple Problems, Smart Solutions

When Zak created ThirdLove, she knew that she wanted to celebrate diversity and appeal to women of all shapes and sizes. So she started simple, designing skin-tone bras that could be worn under a white t-shirt.

Before ThirdLove came along, most lingerie brands only offered one or two “nude” color options. That made lingerie shopping difficult for women of color, whose skin tones rarely match the generic (read: white) hues on offer. To address this problem, ThirdLove offers seven shades of “Naked,” ranging from pale cream to dark brown.

Additionally, the photos shared on ThirdLove’s Instagram represent a major departure from the imaging typically associated with lingerie brands. Rather than rail-thin models with blown-out hair and flawless skin, ThirdLove features women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Many have their stretch marks openly on display, some are breastfeeding, and others appear with their mothers or daughters by their sides.

Another of the brand’s innovations came from Zak’s first-hand experience. Every bra she’d ever worn had a tag on the inside, so when she cut it off, the leftover stitching would dig into her skin and leave an itchy mark. The solution was simple: ThirdLove’s tags are affixed to the outside of the bra to avoid irritation.

Data-Driven Lingerie Personalization

ThirdLove started by offering smart solutions to simple problems like these, but Zak’s vision for the brand was even bigger: create bras that fit every woman perfectly. That was the goal behind the brand’s innovative “Fit Finder” quiz, which ThirdLove’s website recommends every woman take before they shop.

Customers are asked for some basic information: their usual bra size and brand, recurrent fit issues, and their breast shape. Based on these responses, ThirdLove has been able to generate over 600 million data points from 10 million women. With that information, they’ve created 70 different bra sizes (using real employees and customers, not models, to test the fit).

The brand has also used customer data to uncover other valuable insights: for example, return rate data has helped ThirdLove understand how it can better deliver on customer expectations, while a detailed analysis of purchase data has allowed them to build seven different customer sets (i.e. personas). One such set, known as the “Thrill Seeker,” loves shopping and fashion, and tends to make big purchases. If she finds a bra she likes, she’ll buy it in every color. Categorizing customers into these sets based on their shopping habits and purchase histories allows the marketing team to tailor its messaging and outreach strategies accordingly.

ThirdLove has also been able to gather customer insights on a smaller scale through its social media platforms. Zak takes customer feedback very seriously, even if it’s just a single comment left on a social media post. For example, when one customer reached out via Instagram to say that she felt that her 50-and-up demographic wasn’t being represented in the lingerie world, Zak took the complaint to heart — by featuring her in the brand’s next catalogue!

ThirdLove is customer-obsessed, data-driven, and innovative — and they’re not going to stop disrupting the lingerie world until every woman has found her perfect fit.

Tagged : Data-driven

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