Hanky Panky, an underwear company founded by two women in 1977, is on a mission to grow its digital presence and win over new shoppers, with a focus on Gen Z. While the brand currently has about 45,000 Instagram followers, its past social strategy of using product shots on white backgrounds and overly posed models wasn’t necessarily the best approach to win over that coveted demographic.
As part of a move to distance itself from competitors like Cosabella and a new wave of brands selling underwear, from ThirdLove to Everlane, who push no-frills products and muted colors, Hanky Panky rolled out a new digitally focused campaign yesterday. The brand is playing up its brightly colored styles and a size-inclusivity message to grow past its current customer base, mostly women over the age of 30.
“With a revamped digital presence and bolder, brighter visuals, we’re bringing our personality to life in a big way and setting us apart from other brands,” said Gale Epstein, president and creative director of Hanky Panky. “With inclusive sizing, as well as the introduction of men’s styles to the brand portfolio, we are continuing to take strides toward being a brand for everybody and every body.”
Hanky Panky turned to creative agency HangarFour and public relations firm DKC to pinpoint what younger consumers want from an underwear brand and how a 42-year-old brand could convey that through its marketing. Director of DKC Analytics, Mike Moschella, said the move to target Gen Z came from finding that 45% of lingerie shoppers on Facebook and Instagram are under the age of 30. Survey data collected by DKC Analytics also showed casual and colorful styles as top female underwear preferences but, “competitor brands are focused on absence of color and lacking in fun imagery, leaving a major opening for Hanky Panky to differentiate.”
Hanky Panky also found that a lot of its older customers are already shopping on social media, so the brand will continue pushing into that territory with this new creative. A spokesperson for the brand noted that Instagram’s click-to-buy feature has been a big growth driver for Hanky Panky’s online business in the last year, but declined to share specific metrics. They also said sales on the brand’s e-commerce site have increased “in the high double digits” year over year for the past five years, with “10% to 20% increases” in total sales across the brand’s site and its many retail partners. The brand is in over 60 countries, in about 1,300 international stores, 2,000 specialty stores in the U.S. and 10 department stores (426 doors total).
While playing up color makes sense for the brand, analysts said Hanky Panky will need to focus on more than fun colors and patterns to win these shoppers over. “As far as nurturing this younger audience, color may be exciting, but I think that as long as they maintain that openness and level of transparency, that’s what this younger generation really wants and is attracted to,” said Olivia Cole, chief operating officer at Dallas-based creative collective GoDo Discover Co.
Since inception, Hanky Panky has kept all of its production in the U.S. The brand has also recently adopted additional sustainability practices, including a program launched in spring 2018 that takes any clean, no-longer-wearable bras and undies and converts them into carpet padding.
Another area the brand is looking to put more focus on is size inclusivity, which is already a pretty crowded space in the underwear market. While the brand’s signature thong comes in a one-size-fits-all cut, Hanky Panky also has petite and plus sizes to keep it competitive with a wave of size-inclusive underwear brands from Aerie and AdoreMe to ThirdLove and Savage x Fenty.