The global lingerie market is expected to hit US$81,640m in 2019 and to grow annually by 3.2% (CAGR 2019-2023), 64% of this lingerie market was accounted for by the United States (US$52,191m in 2019) according to the market research firm Mintel.
The UK’s lingerie market will grow by 11.4% between 2016 and 2021 and will top £4.6bn in value, so it’s clear why overseas lingerie brands want to secure representation and break into this lucrative lingerie market.
Mid-market lingerie specialists continue to grow their sales
It’s worth noting that out of the UK market, M&S now has 20% of the lingerie market, with 10% going to online lingerie sellers, 11% to Lingerie specialists and 12% to dept stores. Mintel reports that the mid-market lingerie specialists continue to perform the best. Premium retailers struggle to grow sales with Rigby and Peller reporting a 3.3% decrease in sales and Agent Provocateur just avoiding administration and whilst 34% of UK consumers now shop for underwear online, this continues to grow.
Getting the right Sales Agency for your lingerie business is important
So, finding the right person to represent your lingerie brand in the UK is important, but can be very challenging. It’s not just about finding the sales agent that has the right brand mix and the right relationship with retailers, it’s also about the right personality match with your brand. It’s also vital that your sales agent has the right balance of brands and shares the same performance aspirations. So, in short not every brand is right for every agent if you want lasting success for both parties. Finally, and one of the most important factors it’s about truly understanding the market and making sure that both parties’ expectations are realistic and can be met.
Intimate Apparel offer first class sales agency support for your lingerie business
At Intimate Apparel lingerie consultancy, we offer sales agency support in more than one way. Firstly, we can advise the brand on the right path to take and help them with strategies with which to approach the market to make the maximum impact. Secondly, we can work with them in recruiting a sales agent, distributor or salaried salesperson for their business. Finally, and in only a few cases, we will agree to take the brand on ourselves and represent the brand for either a one-off season (to test the market), or on a long-term contractual basis. We specialise in national and key retailers but in a tiered approach, we would use additional sales agents to cover the UK customer based where required.
Get a sales agency that works for your lingerie brand
There are many UK sales agents and distributors out there, some have been around for decades and have built up a strong brand portfolio and strong relationships with the retailers too. Some agencies are said to have far too many brands on their books and sometimes brands complain that these lingerie sales agencies can’t focus enough on giving their lingerie brand the care and attention that they believe it requires. Other lingerie brands are lucky enough to work with sales agencies that are very selective about who they represent and focus on a specific and effective sales strategy for each brand.
These agencies tend to agree on a target and tiered account base with the brand each season, ensuring that this is monitored and reported on, which keeps the client feeling included in the process and helps achieve a long-term sustainable strategy and success for the lingerie brand.
What does a lingerie brand need for the UK lingerie market?
So, what does a lingerie brand need to offer in order to be viable in the UK market? Regular, clear communication is key. A new brand launching in the UK lingerie market needs to be serious about investing in a strategy lasting 3 years before they see a good return. It’s important to do the following.
- Support and attend trade shows in both the UK and Paris.
- Have a marketing budget ready to spend and promote the brand no matter what.
- Get a PR company that can work on social media and build a customer following.
- Be strong in both oral and written English
- Offer sterling price lists, brochures, full set of samples and any support materials in advance of the selling season and trade shows.
- Offer product and brand training.
- Be prepared to support the very demanding trading terms of the bigger UK retailers which cover various discounts, re-packaging requirements, marketing support, nominated carrier costs, seasonal markdown support and sell through guarantee schemes.
- Deliver ON TIME and offer replenishable stock lines to keep sales momentum up in season.
Certainly, for European lingerie brands, finding a UK sales agent, who works on a commission only basis is often the way to go. It’s cost effective and enables the brand to get a sales agent with localised solid knowledge of the UK lingerie market. The agent will help build the brand effectively and get the brand “out there” and in front of the retailers. They will be able to advise on effective advertising and social media, they’ll tell you the tools they need, just be prepared to spend the money to invest in the market.
It was my lucky day when I read a very interesting article in Lingerie Buyer magazine written by Claire. I contacted Claire as I found the article very insightful in all aspects of the UK intimate apparel market. Claire has now worked on several projects for me and I have been delighted with her input. She is highly respected with all stake holders of the industry especially the Key retail buyers. I would have no hesitation in recommending Claire. She is ethical and keeps confidentiality.
CEO, Simon De Winter Group. Melbourne Australia.