Sloggi's Ludovic Manzon: 'We want to become a benchmark in bodywear, not just underwear'
Sloggi is no exception within an underwear industry which is forced to reinvent itself in order to generate growth. The Triumph group, owner of the French underwear label, has kicked off a new development phase for Sloggi, which it regards as a brand with a strong international potential. To see the plan through, CEO Ludovic Manzon has defined a new set of priorities and market arenas, which he talked about with FashionNetwork.com.
FashionNetwork: When you were appointed CEO of Sloggi in January 2016, what was the situation within the Triumph group and especially Sloggi?
Ludovic Manzon: Yes, has been sixteen months since I arrived. The Triumph group's owners, the Spiesshofer and Braun families, had just sold several brands, among them Hom and Valisere, to focus all their efforts on Triumph and Sloggi. Until then, Sloggi lived pretty much in the shadow of Triumph, if anything in terms of its weight within the group, but the owners recognised the label had a strong potential. They then proceeded to set up a fully fledged organisation for Sloggi, endowing the brand with its own resources, including my appointment as CEO.
FNW: What is your new mission?
LM: Our long-term vision has several facets: first of all, the fact that we are a global player in bodywear, meaning not in underwear alone, [that we are] an everyday, accessible brand, with a reputation for comfort, an aspiration in terms of self-acceptance and, finally, a strong lean towards innovation. Coming as I do from the sport industry, where the motto is 'innovate or die', the word 'innovation' has a special meaning. I think the same need for innovation applies to underwear.
FNW: You have introduced a large-scale transformation plan to achieve this, what are its main elements?
LM: The starting point is a truly global redefinition of Sloggi's brand platform, which we entrusted to the MullenLowe agency. MullenLowe has a highly creative team, and with them we are trying to recapture the identity and light-heartedness which made Sloggi successful in the past, notably in the 90s. Something which has already emerged in the recent ad campaign for the launch of the Wow Comfort bra. It came across as highly entertaining on social media, and was well received. Advertising communication in the underwear industry is quite standardised, with women being portrayed as objects of desire only. Besides redefining the message, we also decided to boost our marketing strategy's resources. 10% of our revenue will from now on be dedicated to marketing investment, as opposed to the current 3.5%. The idea is to produce one major global campaign every year, to make it as resonant as possible, rather than spread our investment over an array of operations. We are also in the process of refashioning our logo, to make it more modern, less girly, suitable to a unisex approach.
FNW: You have focused the campaign around the new Wow Comfort bra, which you presented as a technology innovation. Is this the new direction of travel for your work on the product range?
LM: Yes, we are working on developing innovative global concepts. We have wiped clean the slate of our design calendar, with the objective of having a range which is 60% shared across all markets by 2020, while currently it is 0%. Each region has been creating its own range. Now, our guiding principle is that each segment ought to correspond to one need of a single section of global consumers, so we have designed a new brand architecture around four labels: Originals, consisting of iconic existing products, a basic range with highly loyal customers; Blue, featuring an entirely new take on everyday items; S by Sloggi, which will be introduced in early 2018 and will become our premium line, still featuring everyday products but pushing our expertise even further; and Move, planned for end 2018, taking us into new territory, in the athleisure direction this time. We will approach this over-arching sport trend from the pleasure and comfort angle, for consumers interested in the recreational rather than the performance side.
FNW: You are definitely moving out of underwear country! After 'under', is 'over' the new priority?
LM: Yes, Sloggi must be perceived as a label for the entire body. We are engaged in very specific work on bras and tops. The next innovation, planned for March 2018, will feature in fact a top! 'Zero feel' garments have already been developed and are being sold in Japan. They are invisible tops [a longline seamless crop-top style bralette] to be worn on the bare skin, which you virtually don't feel you're wearing, thanks to an exclusive fabric. They allowed us to double our sales in Japan within a year!
The full interview is available on FashionNetwork Premium.
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