Adore Me went from $1.1 million in sales to $16.2 million in only two years, thanks to their inclusive sizing and body-positive social media marketing. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” is one of the most watched viral ads ever. Getty Images saw a 66% sales hike between February 2014 and October 2014 after the release of their female-empowering Lean In Collection.
Nubian Skin is another female-targeted brand that promotes inclusivity and diversity, and has garnered a considerable amount of attention through social media. I find Nubian Skin potentially more genuine than the brands above because marketing isn’t the only component of the brand that preaches individuality; Nubian Skin itself sells lingerie for women whose skin tones are deeper than the traditional sandy beige and milky white “nude” undergarments that other lingerie brands offer. The brand also released their Curve line this year, which offers plus-size hosiery, and is planning on further expanding their bra size offerings. Granted, Adore Me and Aerie also carry more bra sizes than many mainstream lingerie retailers (30A-46G, and 30A-40DD, respectively), which perhaps levels out the three brands in terms of diverse size offerings.
Obviously, these companies (all of which sell products almost exclusively aimed towards women, other than Getty Images) are doing something right by focusing on trying to empower, not discourage, their female shoppers. But are their attempts genuine? The cynic in me says no, but another part of me is drawn in by the promises of body positivity and confidence these brands are peddling. I think it’s exciting to see stomach rolls and unretouched cellulite in #AerieREAL bikini ads; in a market saturated by heavily Photoshopped images, it can be refreshing to see pictures of women looking carefree and curvy on the beach. It’s even more exciting knowing that Aerie also supports the National Eating Disorder Association with a portion of their sales. While it can be frustrating being sucked into something I can easily identify as a marketing ploy, I feel better knowing that at least this marketing ploy doesn’t set entirely unrealistic body standards for women, and can even help those suffering, like in Aerie’s case.
Other women share my (albeit tentative) excitement about the body positivity being touted by more and more woman-friendly brands, and that shows in the uprise in sales the inclusive ad campaigns have stirred up. Women of all different sizes are endorsing the brands on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, often offering coupon codes to make the brands even more accessible to a larger variety of their female followers. Women, including me, take notice of the products their favorite bloggers, vloggers, and Instagrammers are raving about, and are often convinced to buy those products because of both the careful, calculated marketing on the brand’s side, and the collaborations between the brand and the social media gurus.
We also take notice of brands that feature models that look like us, even if you have to squint a little to see the resemblance. Dove isn’t just showing thin, young models in their Campaign for Real Beauty; they’re showing women of all sorts of different ages, ethnicities, and body types. Sometimes it’s nice seeing someone that looks a little bit like you using your soap, or the soap you will now buy because its ads were at least semi-realistic. The Lean In Collection from Getty Images has some great images of women doing more than just eating salad and laughing, and some of the proceeds from the photos even go towards supporting the female empowerment organization Lean In itself. Aerie, Adore Me, and Nubian Skin don’t just show small-busted women in push-up bras in their advertisements; they show women of all cup sizes, in a variety of bra styles. It’s comforting seeing women with similar figures to you looking happy and confident in the same bras and swimsuits you want to buy, and it takes some of the guesswork out of whether or not the items will fit properly.
Even though it may all just be incredibly smart marketing and PR tactics, I’m glad brands are expanding upon what they show as beautiful and attractive. If other women can find comfort and confidence in seeing people that look like them being shown in the media (although we obviously still have a long way to go in terms of completely equal media representation), then I’m happy for them as well. Hopefully, the body-positive and inclusive marketing techniques these brands have presented are more than just a fad, and will continue to be expanded upon.