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Clovia’s Nikhil Gulati on marketing women's lingerie in India

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Pranali Tawte
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To help women get comfortable in talking about their lingerie needs, Clovia aims to be the pal that shoppers need with a fun and quirky approach. Nikhil Gulati shares how the brand saw a shift in reach post on boarding their new brand ambssador.

Women's lingerie shopping can be awkward. If you have bought it offline, you might have found yourself fumbling as you looked for words to explain to the salesperson about what kind of styles and size you’re looking for. 

Founder and CRO of lingerie and innerwear brand Clovia, Neha Kant, relied on her mother until graduation to avoid purchasing her own undergarments. It’s this frustration of not finding the right size or the lack of guidance that prompted Kant to launch Clovia. 

Its marketing strategy, since day one, has revolved around encouraging women to openly talk about their needs. The brand even wrote a blog on it and has often relied on content marketing, which gives them a platform to have an open conversation with women.

Leading the marketing activities at the company, Nikhil Gulati, GM Marketing of Clovia talks with Social Samosa about how conversations around lingerie are done in hushed voices and how Clovia addresses these issues with their marketing strategy.

Using Bollywood’s popularity to talk about women's lingerie needs

Clovia identified a market need for digital-first women's intimate apparel in India and discovered that the current distribution model hinders the flow of consumer input, which results in a lack of creativity and diversity in marketing.

Gulati said, “Women’s innerwear category is not in that space still where you can equate it with the men's innerwear category. The category is now more open and more receptive to conversation, but still, the conversations are being done in hushed voices.”

After establishing its presence on social media and connecting with urban women, Clovia wanted to reach out to all Indian households to have a conversation with women. 

Clovia believed the only way to do so was to get into their audience’s living rooms and the way for that was either through cricket or Bollywood.

Gulati shared that even a decade back leading male celebrities were doing male inner-wear ads but the brand had to take quite an effort to get a leading female Bollywood celebrities to come on board.

For example, male inner-wear brands such as Lux Cozi, Amul Macho, Amul Comfy, Dixcy Scott, Rupa-Frontline, Macroman, and Dollar Bigboss, have appointed leading male celebrities as brand ambassadors for a long time, while the women's inner-wear industry had few to none. 

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So, to shed the awkwardness, it became pertinent for Clovia to get a brand ambassador. The brand was finally able to sign Shraddha Kapoor as its endorser in December 2022, which was, a major marketing milestone in their journey. 

“We got Shraddha Kapoor because the conversations are still not mainstream or still not normalized and there are things in India that take a brand to the living rooms of all Indian households, one is cricket and the other is Bollywood,” said Gulati.

Clovia launched its first brand campaign on mass medium television in December, which featured Shraddha and women of different sizes. 

Gulati shared that after the launch of the campaign and making Shraddha the face of Clovia, the brand has seen exponential growth in all its key businesses. The brand has acquired more users on the website and the app, the Google searches for Clovia have doubled and the footfall in the offline stores has tripled. Similarly, brand searches on the B2B marketplaces have doubled.

The launch of the campaign and onboarding of Shraddha has translated into revenue growth as well for the brand since December 2022.

“Being associated with Shraddha Kapoor, who happens to be the most followed Bollywood actress, has made the conversation around lingerie at least mainstream in the media and also has given us robust television and has given us access to the households,” said Gulati.

Shraddha comes with a strong social currency. She has over 78.2 million followers on Instagram, which makes her the most followed Indian actress after Priyanka Chopra. She has over 14.3 million followers on Twitter. 

Shades of digital marketing 

The brand’s digital media marketing is centered around social media, content marketing and performance marketing. 

Catering to its young target audience who are more active on social media platforms, Clovia targets them by building engaging content and asking them questions. It has also been focusing on personalised content. 

Clovia uses memes, topical and relatable content around ill-fitted bras to connect with its audience on Instagram. 

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The brand has been collaborating with influencers for humorous reels which also revolve around issues that women face with lingerie and their relationship with traditional mothers. 

Its YouTube channel also features digital creators and offers ">tips and tricks on how to deal with different situations, giving fashion and health advice. After joining the platform in 2015, Clovia has accumulated 27.7k subscribers on YouTube by sharing DIYs, how to’s and do’s & don’ts videos. It also features its latest lingerie and nightwear look books. 

The brand’s media mix is centered on digital. Gulati told Social Samosa that 85% of Clovia’s sales are currently online and here, contextual advertising is at its center. 

Gulati said, “Whether it's the television, Snapchat, or any audio podcast show, we would be present on all the relevant platforms where our audience is. We have to be there in a very contextual and in a very engaging manner.”

Also Read: How Dairy Milk Silk seizes Valentine’s Day with heart-warming campaigns

Clovia believes today’s consumers can be engaged only through high-quality contextual content. 

The brand has also looked at content marketing as a key component in its approach. Its blog ‘Clovia Magazine’ answers all queries that women often face while shopping lingerie and inner-wear. For example, its blog answers fashion and health questions about finding perfect bra size, workouts for mom-to-be, etc.  

For instance, in 2015, Clovia collaborated with a standup comedian Neeti Palta for a series of videos where she talked about how breasts are perceived in our culture, discussed size issues that women face due to ill-fitted bras, and described what she goes through while buying lingerie from the traditional lingerie shop.

Its overall marketing strategy has stayed away from following a functional approach and rather takes a fun approach, without coming across as sultry. 

"You won't see Clovia advertising about the fabric or fit. Clovia will always try to occupy a very quirky, fun space."

Sharing more details on brand’s overall marketing tactics, Gulati said, “We have never been utilitarian and have never spoken about our products in only utilitarian terms. You won't see Clovia advertising about the fabric or fit. Clovia will always try to occupy a very quirky, fun space. We are neither in the preachy space nor in the sultry and sexy space. We want to stand for joy for our customers. We want to have that core leadership.” 

Marketing trends & what lies ahead...

Marketing maverick Philip Kotler once said, “Markets always change faster than marketing.”

Post COVID-19, brands have seen extreme changes in the adoption of digital and phygital channels. 

Gulati believes that all brands will focus more on customers through the lens of technology. Gamification would be essential in all social media marketing and as the attention span of audiences gets shorter, brands will have to cater to it with attention-grabbing content.

The focus area for Clovia is to grow brand awareness across India. “We got into fast fashion space because of the densities identified with us and we already have occupied that space. Now it is just to establish ourselves further and grow as a leader,” said Gulati. 

The brand currently has 52 exclusive business outlets (EBOs) and is also working on expanding its offline presence. Clovia also aims to cross 200 EBOs by the end of the next fiscal year.

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