How 2 Plus Size Mega-Brands Are Winning Over Customers

Welcome to February’s Self-Love Marketing Series: focusing on Body Positive brands, campaigns and messaging targeting the plus-size market. This is Part 1.

 
For decades, brands clung to myths about plus size women like, “She won’t buy because she’s waiting to lose weight,” and, “this customer doesn’t spend money on herself due to low self esteem.”
 
Shockingly enough (smirk),  it turns out that when you put attractive clothing options (even better if they come with reasonable price points), and market those options well, plus size women will absolutely open their pocketbook.
 
Now that we know 67% of American women are plus size, brands–especially fashion brands–have been trying to figure out how to tap into the buying power of the plus size woman. These days, the value of the plus size market is estimated to exceed $18 billion.
Many brands have attempted to optimize sales to plus size women, but only a few have really distinguished themselves by successfully winning over the plus size customer, building a tribe of loyal followers and repeat buyers.
 
Not surprisingly, two of the leaders in this space are explicitly plus size brands. Any label aiming to extend marketing to include a plus size customer can learn much by studying the marketing strategies of both Torrid and Lane Bryant.
 
As of 2016, Lane Bryant enjoyed a 16% market share and three solid years of sales growth. Torrid also reported significant sales growth in 2016. 
 
If you’re interested in reaching a plus market, it’s crucial to understand what makes her tick.  Each of the above brands not only sells clothing to plus size women in a transactional sense, they have each managed to ingratiate themselves to her. Take a page from the playbook of these brands, and watch yourself get to #rideordie status with the plus community in a matter of months. 

The value of the plus size market is estimated to exceed $18 Billion.

 1. adopt an inclusive, insider tone 

As a rule, Torrid talks to Her as though they are both part of the same group message chat.
 With a supremely inclusive tone, the shopping experience for Torrid customer feels much like plotting next weekend’s brunch outfit with a friend while she’s scrolling through Instagram.
 
However, like any good friend, Torrid isn’t simply playing nice. The brand advocates for their audience. Case in point. In response to a social media comment critiquing the “health” of a woman featured in an Instagram post, the brand back with the perfect response.
 
 
Beyond simply publishing aspirational images of curvy women, Torrid actively monitors their social community to prevent body shaming in a fierce, protective tone that creates a deep sense of connection with the customer.
 
With Torrid, customers participate in a supportive, two-way conversation with someone who “gets” her, and she cares back. Women are loyal to Torrid because of their inclusivity and support; it’s a strong emotional connection that the plus-size woman doesn’t often experience in the fashion space. 
 

2. Make a statement with bold campaigns

Taking on a body shaming social media troll is one thing, but aiming to making body shaming completely irrelevant is quite another.
 
Lane Bryant continues to take plus size branding to another level through their powerful, attention-grabbing campaigns. The #ImNoAngel campaign in 2015, complete with a rally in Times Square, along with their #PlusIsEqual campaign in 2016 broke new ground in plus size marketing. 
 
Just before the holidays, Lane Bryant released video ads featuring models and prominent plus size actresses who addressed their body shamers head-on, on camera. The result was a powerful, widely-shared video that greatly affirmed Lane Bryant’s deep understanding of their customers experiences.
 
For Valentine’s Day 2017, the brand is rolling out a series of fresh, sexy, and empowering images of beautiful, plus size women in fashion-forward, curve-hugging lingerie. While we are starting to see these types of images more often, it remains an incredibly affirming experience to see women who look more like the majority of Americans than lauded for their beauty.  
 
 
Each of these brands serve a very different woman within the plus-size market, you’d hardly expect to see a Torrid look in a Lane Bryant store window, but both brands have sworn their allegiance to the plus size woman.
By continuing to succeed, each is helping to change the conversation and expanding what is possible for the plus size segment. 
 
While some fashion labels believe there is a finite cap on the sales potential for plus, Torrid and Lane Bryant prove that the ceiling is as high as a brand’s level of respect for the customer. Demonstrating this through consistent messaging pays off. BIG.
 
Have you spotted any big hits or misses in plus size fashion branding? Feel free to reach out to pr couture and me on social media – would love to continue the conversation.
 

About Melinda Parrish

 
Melinda Parrish is a Ford model that and body positivity advocate. Melinda is a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, Women’s Running, Gaiam’s lifestyle blog, and partners with brands like Expedia on creating fitness and wellness-related content.
 
She has her own hashtag, #healthyatanysize, and a weekly Facebook Live series called “Body Love TV.” She was recently written up in People Magazine for taking a stand for curvy women. In addition to being a model and an influencer, Melinda is a lifelong athlete and former Naval Officer.