Our friends at The NPD Group, one of the top global research and market analysis firms, have promising news and insightful predictions about the direction of the Innerwear industry in 2020. NPD, which compiles its own research and data in partnership with top industry leaders, are the foremost experts at helping brands and retailers draw meaningful conclusions from complex data points.

To see where we are going, we first need to look at where we are and where we have been. NPD’s Todd Mick, the Executive Director for Apparel and NPD’s Innerwear Analyst, shared that while it was a tough Spring 2019, Fall 2019 is looking positive. “The 2 big categories, bras and panties, are both up and that hasn’t happened in a good 24 months. They are up 1.3% and 0.2% respectively.” This reversal is an upswing in the intimates industries’ two driving categories and is exciting news on all fronts.

Mick offered additional insights into which channels are winning and focusing on a targeted sales strategy seems to be the name of the game. Brands offering sale or off price merchandise are finding repeat customers. Mass and Sporting Goods specialty stores like Lululemon and Athleta are continuing to thrive. Brands focused purely on an e-commerce experience are also succeeding. Victoria’s Secret is still seeing a decline in market share, Aerie and Soma, though focusing on opposite ends of the generational scale, are winning with their targeted strategies and focus on innovation. Major retailers like Walmart and Target are harnessing wisdom from these successful brands and implementing merchandising strategies that elevate the shopping experience through enhanced in-store merchandising, and the numbers show this tactic is paying off.

NPD’s Kristen Classi-Zummo, the Director of Market Insights & Apparel, offered key insights on why directto-consumer brands are thriving: “Direct-to-Consumer brands do a great job of solving problems for us, problems we didn’t even know we had. We now have this expectation from the apparel we wear. Clothing with special features, like stain and wrinkle resistance, have been growing year over year. Year-to-date, non-sports bras with special features were up 6%.”

Classi-Zummo shared further insights on growing demographics both Direct-to-Consumer and Wholesale brands will want to zero in on. A surprising key market? Boomers! “It’s important for brands & retailers to bet on Boomers. Year-to-date, Boomers have accounted for more than half of the dollar gains in apparel, with self-spending increasing double-digits.” Classi-Zummo highlights brands like Soma as succeeding in this area with both product development and an in-store experience catered to Boomers’ preferences.

Millennials are often the focus of market research, but a new generation is rising in importance for the market and their preferences for sustainability and quality will continue to alter the apparel industry. “Gen Z focuses on R&R - resale and rentals. 19% of 13-24 year olds said they were more interested in buying used fashion from resale sites than previous years, ranking higher than any other age group,” says Classi-Zummo. What does this mean for the lingerie industry? Brands may see their online sales competing with their own products from current and past seasons on resale sites like Poshmark. While consumers will still often prefer new bras, underwear and shapewear, brands will need to strategize how to incentivize sales through their preferred online and in-store channels.

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