For fall, American Eagle Outfitters-owned Aerie, best known for its lifestyle and intimates products, is running a multi-part ad campaign. At the center is an NYC-based Aerie Hidden Gems Marketplace featuring the brand’s coziest products, as well as a broader bra customer acquisition play.
The community-focused Aerie Hidden Gems Marketplace, launching on August 15, will bring together brand fans and new customers in a key market. It’s set to host a series of “Real Talk” panel discussions through September and ongoing throughout fall. The talks will be based on its body confidence-focused Aerie Real campaign that started in 2014, when the brand also stopped retouching its campaigns.
“Fall is our Super Bowl,” said Stacey McCormick, CMO at Aerie. “Leggings and fleeces are a big part of our business, and that becomes a seasonal play. The comfy-cozy approach to clothing is our thing, and fall is our moment to shine — all the way up through the holidays.”
For the NYC marketplace, the brand’s merchandisers selected products from eight of their favorite local shops, including Kobrick Coffee Co., PopUp Bagels and the flower shop Brooklyn Blooms. Aerie-branded “it list” products will also be included, including velour sets and its Hold Up! Pocket Leggings, McCormick said. Market-goers will be able to sample products and play games to win prizes. New York is the brand’s third biggest market, based on sales. Aerie chose to focus on the market, based on its exceptionally strong foot traffic in stores.
“Localization is super important to us,” said McCormick. “We have almost 500 stores in different markets, and localization through city-focused store activations is a big part of the success of our stores and building community within those local markets. We wanted these to be local, New York-led businesses selling special items that were unique to that vendor.”
In addition, Aerie’s fall marketing will focus on promoting its bra business. “Since [our launch in] 2006, we’ve sold over 100 million bras, but people still don’t know us for intimates,” said McCormick. “Our customers have known us for cozy, casual products since the Covid years.” The brand has conducted extensive social listening and feedback-focused campaigns with its own community. The lack of awareness around the line showed that it has a big opportunity to re-introduce its intimates.
“We are focused on giving our customers the ‘comfy bra’ match, alongside our existing range of comfy products,” said McCormick. For fall, the brand is building on its bra range with a new “Smoothez” bra — a pull-on push-up bra with floating cup technology, where the cup is integrated into the seamless construction.
The NYC marketplace will feature a “Break Up with your Bra” bra trade-in stand, where customers can trade in old bras and get fitted for a new one. The initiative will be rolled out to Aerie’s 500 U.S. stores on August 24, and customers will be able to receive a new bra in store for $20.
Aerie’s bra-focused marketing will also include a new partnership with dating app Bumble. On the Bumble app, customers will be able to find their comfy bra match and discount incentives.
“A lot of creators come to our stores, and a lot of organic content pops up, as a result,” said McCormick. “We’ve had one creator call us the ‘OG comfy bra spot,’ so now we’re using our community to help drive engagement around the comfy aspect of Aerie bra.” The “comfy” taglines will be used in a full-funnel marketing strategy, inclusive of paid social media posts, search and customer emails.
“We know that those who shop bras and buy bras from us stay with us the longest. Plus, they spend the most and have the highest lifetime value. But we also know that only 53% of our [customer] base buys bras from us, so this focus on bras is also an acquisition tactic,” said McCormick. “Our focus this year is strategically doubling down on our brand awareness, so that customers know our core comfy products as well as our intimates range.”
According to research company Grand View Research, the global lingerie market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% from 2023 to 2030 to reach $141.81 billion by 2030.
AEO’s latest earnings report for the first quarter of 2023, revealed on May 24, showed that Aerie’s revenue has increased 12% year-over-year to $359 million for the quarter. At the time, AEO revised its overall second-quarter revenue outlook, anticipating a flat year-over-year performance and an operating income surpassing the previously estimated range of $25 million to $35 million.