(Filed Under wholesale Shapewear News). BODY publisher Nick Monjo interviewed Cupid Foundations national sales manager Eric Crawford about some of the recent changes at the firm.
MONJO: I have heard from executives at the company that there has been a push to bring its products to more specialty stores.
CRAWFORD: Yes, we feel that our product lines are “right” for specialty stores and we are under penetrated in this channel.
MONJO: Which brands are involved? Why these brands in particular (vs the other Cupid Foundations brands)? And when did this effort begin?
CRAWFORD: We are focusing on Miraclesuit and TC Intimates for the specialty channel. These brands are non-promotional, they have limited distribution and provide premium shaping solutions. Additionally, we are focusing on TC Edge panties that have patented technology and deliver on the need to have “No Ride Up and No Panty Line”
MONJO: What was the reason and strategy behind this move? Did you use your own, in-house team? Independent reps?
CRAWFORD: We have recruited a team of independent reps to market these brands across the country. Again, we know that specialty stores look for brands and products that focus on the premium and luxury retail. Specialty stores cannot compete with the traditional department stores on price. So, marketing the TC and Miraclesuit brands give them high quality shaping garments that offer real shaping solutions. And, our specialty store partners can have confidence that they will not be undercut on price. We also feel the specialty channel brings validity and authenticity to our premium brands. And, it is a perfect environment to market our patented technology and unique design methods that we bring to the shapewear and panty categories.
MONJO: What kinds of results have you seen so far in your efforts? Can you mention a few of the specialty stores that have recently added your brands? Retailers love to hear which of the colleagues are buying a brand.
CRAWFORD: We have added so many new partners this year it would be unfair to highlight only a handful. Our specialty store base has grown by 30% over 2012 and suffice it to say that this is one of the fastest growing channels in our company
MONJO: You are relatively new to the firm. When did you start and were you involved in the specialty store initiative from the beginning?
CRAWFORD: I have just marked my one year anniversary with the Cupid family. The specialty store business has been ongoing for TC and Miraclesuit but got additional focus from our former national sales manager, Lenny Greenbaum. Lenny invested most of 2013 in recruiting and getting our independent rep team fully staffed and educated on our product. Lenny recently retired but the company will definitely benefit from his efforts in 2014 and beyond.
MONJO: Can you give us a summary of the department store penetration by Cupid? Which stores, which brands.
CRAWFORD: We have three department store brands: Naomi and Nicole, Miraclesuit and TC Intimates. N&N is a brand that can be found in stores such as Kohl’s, Macy’s, Belk, and BonTon. Miraclesuit is our non-promotional bridge brand that you will find in Lord&Taylor, Macy’s, and other better department stores. TC is our premium product line that can be found in Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks, and L&T. We are also launching TC in a number of Neiman Marcus stores in March of 2014. We also have department store businesses in Canada and Mexico.
MONJO: What are some of the reasons a specialty store should consider TC and Miraclesuit? Why these brands and not the many others out there in the market?
CRAWFORD: TC and Miraclesuit have thrived this year in spite of the challenging sales trends for retailers and for the shapewear category. Our products truly “change” a woman’s shape. We are a great “go to” brand for a lingerie store or a dress shop. We focus on firm and extra firm control that will transform a woman’s shape yet still allow her to be comfortable. We also offer some of our products in women’s plus sizes 1X-4X which are not usually carried in traditional department stores. We are constantly innovating. And, we have patented technology that is unique to our brands that can truly deliver on the promise of “No Ride Up and No Lines.”
MONJO: What are the advantages for a retailer of working with a larger firm, such as yours, vs. some of the other, smaller shapewear brands in the market?
CRAWFORD: Cupid has been in the shapewear business for 70+ years. And, it has been the company’s PRIMARY focus. We have years of design expertise and we develop product for every retail channel. There are some companies that opportunistically get “in and out” of the shapewear category but it is not their core competency. We know that specialty stores have a loyal clientele and they look for brands and products that their clients will continue to come back to. TC Intimates and Miraclesuit will be a constant resource in the shapewear and panty categories. The specialty stores should also be assured that the TC and Miraclesuit brands will maintain their focus only on the premium retail channel.
MONJO: How has your direct-to-consumer business been going? Your online sales? That was a relatively new initiative, right?
CRAWFORD: Our cupidintimates.com e-comm site is continuing to experience solid growth. It is a great destination to shop and purchase ALL of the Cupid brands as well as a great site to learn about the company and the shapewear category.
MONJO: Over the last few years a large number of new brands have joined the established brands. Is there an advantage to working with an “older” brand such as yours?
CRAWFORD: Again, Cupid’s core competency has been and will continue to be “shaping solutions.” We will continue to use our years of expertise to develop fresh ideas and infuse innovative products into the category.
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