at Lounge Underwear
At Lounge Underwear, we live by our motto: “Comfort Made Sexy.” Lounge was started in 2015 in our founders’ front lounge, and in four short years, we have built a strong brand identity around everyday comfort without compromising on the sexy design. Very few lingerie brands offer both, and that combination has resonated with our customers.
The fashion world is rife with oxymorons. If you’ve heard the terms “affordable luxury” or “modern vintage,” you know what I mean. Clothing the female body is a fraught exercise, both mentally and physically, as women strive to strike the perfect balance between the polar opposites in today’s runways, magazines, and window displays.
Fortunately, “comfortable sexy” is no longer one of these unattainable contradictions.
As important as the product is, the female community that we’ve developed and empowered has also been a big factor in Lounge’s monumental growth. And that growth doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, even during a pandemic.
Embodying the Growth Mindset
I joined Lounge just over a year ago as a senior executive, and everything has been moving at light speed since the minute I started.
One of the most important things many people don’t know about this company is that we’ve had more than 100% growth year over year, without any outside investment. Within three months of joining the company, we moved to a huge new office and warehouse. Those new spaces are already starting to feel cramped; over the course of the following six months, our staff doubled in size.
The past year in particular we’ve hit our stride, both as a company and for our paid social team. Today, I head paid media, which has gone from a one-person department to a team of four. Our scope includes every form of social media, search, display, Google Shopping, and YouTube, among others.
With our recent introduction into four new markets, we managed to increase revenue from social platforms by 388%. During that same time, we dropped our new audience acquisition cost by 78%. That rapid growth has seen our paid media budget increase by 80%.
Those results are due to my team’s passion, hard work, and willingness to always keep their eye on the ball. We never hold back; I push my team to come up with new ideas and test them, and my colleagues share that enthusiasm. Every two weeks we sit down with other departments to share ideas and determine how we can leverage each other’s expertise and efforts.
At a larger corporation, this constant experimentation and collaboration can be hard to achieve. At Lounge, it’s our company ethos to experiment and push the boundaries.
The Strategy Behind Maintaining Momentum
Last spring, the company’s growth trajectory was clear, but there was still a lot of work to do. Fast-paced growth can turn into chaos. Looking at the numbers, I saw opportunities to develop a strategic plan.
When you start a business, you have to maintain two streams. The ecommerce sales are your bread and butter, and that’s always going to be important, but you also need your consumer to buy into who you are. I understood our target market—I am our target market—and I knew how well our company’s values resonate with that audience.
I wanted to really build on that. Before I arrived, paid media at Lounge was focused on driving sales and traffic. I wanted to find ways to push not only sales and ecommerce, but to share who we are and what we stand for. I wanted to find more ways to sing and shout about who Lounge is as a company.
Lounge had already been using AdRoll when I came on board. Even though AdRoll was new to me, I was excited by the possibilities they presented. So much of my day-to-day is on social, and AdRoll gave me visibility into other platforms and what impact we could have in other areas.
Lounge prides itself on being a collaborative corporate environment, and what I immediately liked about AdRoll is how well they fit into that structure. They also match our passion for the brand. I come from an agency background, so I know how rare it is to have that kind of relationship with your partners. It’s so important to make sure your objectives are aligned with the methods for achieving them, as well as the people who are going to get you there.
When the AdRoll team reached out to me and said, “We’ve got these new ad platforms we’ve been working on, and we’d love for you to try it,” I was all for it. Up to that point, we’d only used static ads. AdRoll’s idea for our Valentine’s Day campaign was to move into a more creative use of video and dynamic ads. We merged dynamic ads to push our Valentine’s collections with a video campaign, which featured a short clip from our campaign photo shoot.
Having our Valentine’s Day video in a banner ad made a massive difference in new audience acquisition. Our ad was vastly different from everyone else, and our clickthrough rates and CPAs were just incredible—they even blew AdRoll’s expectations out of the water. That initial success motivated us to continue experimenting with the format.
Developing a Consistent Voice
A year ago, we had just begun establishing ourselves in the U.S. market. It’s hard to break into the U.S. as a young British start-up, especially as an ecommerce brand. To be successful, we needed to keep our messaging cohesive in every element of our campaigns. From the moment someone finds us on social, to when they sign up for an email and receive a targeted ad, we had to determine: how do we talk to someone cohesively throughout their customer journey?
We’ve taken that a step further, as we’ve branched out into Germany, France, Sweden, and other E.U. markets. Yes, we are talking to customers in their literal native language, but we also need to find the right language and tone in all of our campaigns, regardless of how new audiences see that messaging. As we delve further into new markets, we need to keep a close eye on activity and results because every territory has its own idiosyncrasies.
I’m really pleased with the emphasis that my team has placed on optimization and analysis. Some people approach things from the perspective that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Lounge is the opposite. If something’s working well, it can always work better. If it’s not working so well, we want to know what we can learn to turn it around.
AdRoll is on that same wavelength, meaning I can think of them less as our external marketing platform, and more as an extended arm of the company. Our account managers at AdRoll are just as passionate as we are about testing new structures for our new audiences.
In an area like paid media, money can disappear quickly. The best way to make our budget work best for us and keep our CPA low is by keeping a close eye on our stats, especially when moving into new markets. AdRoll does not make the data pretty, the way some agencies do. That transparency and willingness to have some hard conversations is why I trust them.
Now, we’re turning some more attention to our content marketing and community, which is a rich source of data and feedback in itself. We never want to be a brand that’s pushing ourselves onto people. We want to be more like that female friend you can trust and call for a chat (and borrow things from her wardrobe!). No one wants to have a friend who doesn’t listen to them.
Our first big campaign around our community was called Feel Your Breast for Breast Cancer Awareness. The traction and positivity we received told us this is what customers want. Just as they’re excited about the newest styles and the softest lace, they’re also excited about the freedom to discuss sometimes taboo subjects that really matter to all women. It becomes cumulative: The more we start these conversations, the more we can listen to our customers, the more we can react to them and build campaigns around what they truly want.
Display can be undervalued in the industry because it’s not always a direct revenue generator. It is very much a top-level, top-of-funnel activity, yet display is also an element that can sit in a consumer’s subconscious. We have already had a lot of success with display when it comes to engaging with our community and plan on doing more of that going forward. In starting those bigger conversations, we build that loyal base, and we also get to learn so much about them.
Planning Your Own Strategic Growth
One of the key things I’ve learned is that you have to listen to your audience. Both good and bad feedback are valuable, but you can only put feedback to good use by listening. We’re looking to experiment more based on our early success with video and moving more into content marketing that focuses on the health and wellbeing of our audience.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t be afraid to spend money. In order to be a player, you have to be seen, which means you really do have to spend money to make money. Go in with a plan, and if something’s not working, you can always optimize it as you go along. If you know what’s happening in your industry, you can change course if needed in order to position yourself in a space where competitors aren’t.
Of all the stats from the past year, I’m most proud of the fact that we dropped the cost of new audience acquisition, while expanding into our new markets. Breaking into those markets and bringing in revenue and new customers at the same time is a very difficult balancing act. Our success is because we take the time to understand our customers in these new markets, explore how we speak to them specifically, and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. In paid media, things can become very expensive very quickly, though with our mindset of always looking to optimize, Lounge is looking at projections for 115% growth year over year.
The past year has been a whirlwind, and we’re excited to move forward and learn more from our customers. We’re confident in our ability to maintain our voice while tackling all the challenges that come with such rapid growth. And there’s something sexy about that.