Inside One Lingerie Company’s Effort to Take Down Victoria’s Secret

Marketing executive Mario Costantino Pace was well-aware of the hurdle he faced in bringing a lingerie brand to the United States market.
In fact, the sales and marketing vice president had a market study to prove it.
“Nobody really knows Triumph,” Pace said. “What I was tasked with was defining a customer value proposition for the brand. What are we bringing that’s new to the table that a competitor like Victoria’s Secret wasn’t?”

Photo Courtesy Mario Costantino Pace.

Photo Courtesy Mario Costantino Pace.

So Pace started talking to women. Triumph International got their product into the hands of social influencers who could help get out the word about the brand. And they figured out that the economic recession played a big role in the way women were shopping for their bras.
Women didn’t want “sexy.” They just wanted a bra that fit.
“We listened to women and we heard that more than 65 percent of them weren’t happy with the fit of their bra,” Pace said. “We weren’t going for the sexiness appeal of Victoria’s Secret. Instead, we wanted to build-up a world of self-confidence for women around the fitting experience.”
That wasn’t always the message of Triumph, though. The international underwear and lingerie maker was founded in Germany in the late 19th century, and when Pace thought about what brand identity he wanted to introduce to the domestic market, he said three things.
“Heritage. European-style. Quality.”
Pace wanted American women to know that Triumph understood them, because they had been in the business for years. And he wanted them to know that Triumph was making a top-notch product. That meant pushing the message of the fit.
“Marketing is all about extracting the message and essence of a brand and bringing it in sync with the target customer,” Pace said. “Fit was a natural message. We found that this could be a very disruptive marketing message for the entire world.”
And so the Triumph experiment that started with the U.S. expanded to a global video and social media campaign around fit.
Photo Courtesy Mario Costantino Pace.

Photo Courtesy Mario Costantino Pace.

“Video presented an opportunity to show the fit,” Pace said. “To show the difference between a perfectly fitting bra and one that doesn’t fit. It showed the fashion of the bra and our European style. And we discovered that our retail partners in the United States loved our videos and wanted them because it gave them an opportunity to show not just the history of the brand but the fit message.”
Today, Triumph has fitted more than 250,000 women worldwide.
Their success started with using data to understand the consumer, which, in Triumph’s case, was the women who wore the bra. But Triumph’s success, Pace said, is also marketing’s biggest future challenge.
“Everything is fast-paced,” he said. “I think it’s going to be challenging for marketing to continue to gain new insights on consumers and based on those insights, propose the right strategy for the business as to how to deliver value to those consumers and capture value from those consumers for the brand. You will need the expertise to continuously interrogate the market, get insights, and use those insights to stay on top of the market and engage with the consumer.”

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Clara Ritger is an assistant producer at Green Buzz Agency. She writes and manages the GBA blog. This might be the first year she watches the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, because of Ariana Grande’s face. Find her on Twitter @clararitger.

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