Saumya Tewari and Ashee Sharma

"What's your cup size", asks Clovia

Clovia's recent outdoor campaign in the online lingerie category hits the market with an innovative activation.

How can a cup of tea promote a brand, you may ask. Well, the government's latest buzzword 'Chai pe charcha' is doing just that and brands and businesses are exploiting the concept for various activity promotions.

The online lingerie and nightwear brand Clovia, is one such brand which cashed in on this thought and recently carried out a bold and quirky on-ground activation in Bengaluru. With the aim to create more awareness about the brand and get people to try its 'Fit Test', Clovia distributed 50,000 cups over eight days to various tea and coffee shops in Bengaluru.

"What's your cup size", asks Clovia
Wondering how does that 'fit' the narrative? The paper cups had the lines "What's your cup size? A perfect bra is like a perfect man - supportive and close to heart," imprinted on them. A call to action directed the reader to the Clovia website to take the 'Fit Test'.
"What's your cup size", asks Clovia
The campaign, which targeted working women in the age group of 25-30 years, was executed by Gingercups, which distributed the cups in women's colleges, IT parks and offices. The brand claims to have received an encouraging response from the activation and now plans to take it to Delhi in its next phase.

Category Talk

"What's your cup size", asks Clovia
Speaking about the online lingerie segment, Neha Kant, founder, Clovia, says, "Once you step out of the metros, buying lingerie becomes quite embarrassing and inconvenient. Online and lingerie are therefore the perfect match. This is evident in the fact that we began around two years back and today we ship more than 3,00,000 units every month. We have, since our launch, grown by around 150 per cent quarter on quarter."

One of the important reasons behind this growth, informs Kant, is the changing preferences of Indian women when it came to lingerie shopping. "While the previous generation grew up on a very vanilla offering (the black, white and nude) in the category, today, there is a lot of demand for colours, patterns (push-up and padded bras) and the funky basics even in smaller towns. The desire for discreet packaging is also similar," she explains. "The traffic to our store today, is evenly spread between the metros and tier II/III cities.

Another significant change that the brand has witnessed during these years, feels Kant, is in the kind of product sold. Earlier, we mostly sold briefs and nightwear, but sales are now skewed towards bras, (more than 60 per cent), which, thanks to the 'Fit Test', are of higher value and are higher risk products.

The 'Fit Test' is a virtual test that gives recommendation on the size and style of bras best suited for a woman based on her body shape and age. It was developed after conducting a series of physical 'fit tests' across the country. Commenting on the success of the feature, Kant states, "Our recommendations based on the 'Fit Test' are so perfect that we get only 5 per cent exchange requests, and 50 per cent of women who take it buy from our store again within the next 3-4 months."

The Noida-based Clovia competes with Zivame, Straps And Strings, Pretty Secrets, and other multi-brand e-tailers like Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong that also sell lingerie online. Global brands like Bw!tch and Enamor also offer online shopping facility on their websites.

The estimated size of the Indian lingerie market -- both online and offline -- is Rs 15,000 crore. Two-thirds of its market share lies in the unorganised sector, while the rest is in the organised sector, of which online buying comprises just a fraction.

Marketing Challenges

Lingerie and lingerie shopping in India have always been associated with social taboos, and that, says Kant is the biggest marketing challenge for the brand/category.

"It's not just women like us, even celebs are affected by these taboos. When we tried reaching out to some television and Bollywood celebrities for our events they seemed hesitant about associating with us. Many websites refused to flash our banners, and networks would not send out our mailers," she recounts.

To circumvent the problem, Clovia had to initially mellow down its advertising. "In certain places we promoted only the nightwear and no lingerie, while in others, the products had to be shown artistically without the use of models. Sometimes, our campaigns had to be made educational depicting pictorially details of the product such as the sort of lining, fabric or underwire used," says Kant.

Today, the brand is better accepted and is in a better position to promote itself. Currently, Facebook, Instagram, Google and Twitter are its biggest publishers. Clovia, moreover, plans to go on television next year.

'Bra'ving The Taboos?

"The campaign is a masterstroke from Clovia," says Saurabh Uboweja, CEO and chief brand strategist, Brands of Desire. "It is presented and executed in a matter-of-fact manner and there is brilliance in its simplicity and impact," he says.

"The campaign does the job of drawing attention to an important subject by highlighting it in the most consumable environments -- the quintessential Indian teashop. After Modi, Clovia could ironically be the next brand that uses 'Chai Pe Charcha', albeit in a different context," he jokes.

"What's your cup size", asks Clovia
"What's your cup size", asks Clovia
In Uboweja's opinion, the campaign "kills many birds with one stone". The Indian lingerie sector is new as compared to developed markets, and product knowledge is either limited or non-existent. Adding to the woes are privacy issues and various taboos in our society. This slows down the growth.

"The campaign positions Clovia as a smart online brand that is trying to solve an important problem for Indian women. It will not only engage the users, but will also result in traffic for the portal with lead generation using a clear call for action," remarks Uboweja.

Sharing his opinion on whether the campaign could have been more subtle, he states, "The whole intent behind the campaign is to break stereotypes and build attention. Any further subtlety could make the campaign difficult to understand. Remember, it's not exactly a social cause though it serves one. I think it is good to go as it is!"

Roshan Rao, media manager at Ambient OOH, says, "One trend that's gaining prominence today is the shock value factor, especially used while targeting a captive audience," and in case of Clovia, it may have the required impact. But Rao is doubtful, nevertheless. "While a campaign like this will create brand awareness in the market, I doubt Clovia will be registered in a consumer's mind because there's already too much clutter," he says.

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