The onset of the pandemic has presented many challenges for retailers across the board. Not only meant has it meant offering engaging digital-first shopping experiences to customers, but also enabling access to products that fancy customers’ interests.
For one, pantsuits have given way to Zoom friendly formal tops and comfy bottoms and jeggings are once again being preferred over denim jeans. But it is not just consumers’ taste for casual and workwear that is changing; their preferences for intimate wear has been equally transformative.
“People opened up their horizons,” said Guido Campello, co-CEO and creative director of luxury lingerie and loungewear brand Journelle in a recent interview with Retail Bum.
Consumers are moving away from buying intimate basics to nicer and “sexier” lingerie pieces as they continue to invest in self-care and sexual wellness, he added.
Loungewear sales, as expected during the pandemic, have also done tremendously well for the luxury brand. The category has performed so well that the company is planning to bring the category front and center of its product marketing strategy heading into 2021.
Another trend Journelle has witnessed during this time, as more and more consumers have shifted to online shopping, is an uptick in discreet packaging requests as more consumers are investing in self-pleasure products such as vibrators.
Taking a mobile-centric approach to engaging customers
Homebound consumers are not only shopping and spending more on lingerie; they are increasingly doing so using digital shopping channels. Journelle has looked to meet this need with the rollout of a plethora of digital offerings, including a mobile application. The company’s newly launched mobile app offers a more streamlined checkout experience and allows shoppers to pay using buy now and pay later (BNPL) options like Affirm.
The company has also looked to extend other digital service offerings through its mobile app, which are often limited to an in-store shopping experience. The app’s “Style from Home” feature allows shoppers to seek stylists’ recommendations. In contrast, the virtual fitting feature enables customers to try on different pieces in the comfort of their own space. These contactless offerings aim to provide a more personalized shopping experience while also giving customers a sense of safety and security while shopping luxury.
And while Journelle’s mobile-centric approach has proven to be a critical component to its success during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the company never intended to launch the app in the first place.
“Had it not been for COVID-19, we wouldn’t have an app right now,” Campello said. “The beauty of Journelle is the service and is the reason why I fell in love with it when it first started. And to not have that service in-store, you lose the whole touchpoint of buying premium and why you should even shop with us [Journelle].”
With the help of its newly launched app, Journelle witnessed a 50 percent increase in sales during its Black Friday and Cyber Monday event compared to last year. Overall, the app experienced over 3,000 downloads in less than two weeks and contributed vastly to the surge in sales.
Consumers’ interest in using the app post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday has not softened either, with the company enjoying a 50 percent increase in sales compared to the same time last year.
Campello credits the newly launched app for that consistent acceleration and expects the trend to continue into the holidays as December is the “month of sexy.”
Delivering an omnichannel experience to in-store shoppers
While enabling a seamless online and mobile shopping experience has become critical for retail brands since the onset of the pandemic, it has also been essential to rethink the in-store shopping experience in order to make customers feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Journelle, for one, is currently limiting the number of shoppers in its physical store locations and only has one associate on staff to assist guests with premium white-glove service. And for customers who feel more comfortable packaging up their own items, they have the option to do so. Customers can also utilize curbside pickup if they choose.
Defying market trends, Campello noted that Journelle has seen an uptick in foot traffic to its brick and mortar locations. One location that has done particularly well and has presented a lesson for the brand is its store in Chicago.
The store is located in a more residential area compared to its other locations in New York. But Campello credits the store’s success to the fact that consumers have fully adapted to their new work from home lifestyles and feel comfortable shopping at stores nearby. That said, the encouraging results is prompting the company to consider extending its physical footprint into more residential areas over the next three years while also continuing to invest in its online presence.
Meeting the needs of an underserved segment
And while Journelle customers have been investing more in self-care and sexual wellness, their buying habits and demographic details have helped the brand identify two segments that are vastly underserved in the intimates and loungewear business: men and customers looking for genderless clothing.
“In February, I was in Germany with lace producers and we identified that the biggest market we were missing was the male body form,” Campello said. “Trans lives matter was also able to create a strong voice. [That’s] a category that is totally “underserved.”
Journelle plans to roll out products for these two segments starting January 2021.
And as Journelle works its way into the new year, the company is also seeking to further engage and educate its customers by bringing in its content team in house. And through its content efforts, Campello hopes to enlighten consumers on sexual-wellness as well as the new soon-to-be-released product lines on its website.