Neiwai: Empowering women with comfortable lingerie & loungewear

Neiwai is a Chinese lingerie and loungewear brand that was launched in 2012 with the aim of creating apparel that frees wearers’ bodies and minds. Starting as an online retailer, the brand has grown into a well-established brand offering a full range of leisurewear lines. This lingerie brand has over 140 stores covering more than 40 cities in China with monthly sales exceeding 200 million RMB in January 2023.

neiwai in china
Source: Taobao, the Chinese lingerie brand vaunted more than 4 million subscribers on Taobao as of February 28, 2023

In the last few years, Chinese women’s aesthetics improved, the demand for bras has changed from being “sexy” and “charming” into “natural” and “true self”. Wireless bras are considered faster to wear and more convenient to buy due to their elasticity and high compatibility with size.

new bra and traditional bras
Source: Daxue Consulting, comparison between Neiwai’s new bra and traditional bras

Neiwai’s marketing strategies to win over Chinese female consumers

Neiwai’s marketing strategy revolves around several key elements that have helped establish the brand as a leader in the Chinese lingerie market. These include a focus on feminism and women’s self-actualization, partnerships with prominent female celebrities, the integration of online and offline channels, co-branding initiatives, and a commitment to product innovation and design. By incorporating these strategies into their marketing approach, Neiwai has been able to cultivate a loyal consumer base that identifies with the brand’s values and mission.

Strategy 1: Feminism is in the brand’s DNA

Years before it became a social buzz in China, this lingerie brand incorporated feminism as one of its marketing strategies. In 2020, Neiwai successfully launched an annual campaign “NO BODY IS NOBODY,” aimed to promote body diversity. The campaign showed models of different ages, shapes, and skin tones who didn’t fit the typical beauty standards. Through the 2020 “NO BODY IS NOBODY” campaign, the brand sought to combat appearance anxiety and body shaming by encouraging Chinese women to embrace their bodies and feel comfortable with themselves. As a result, the brand’s consumer loyalty and reputation have significantly improved. Consumers not only buy its products for their functional benefits, but also because they identify with brand’s values.

Source: Neiwai, the NO BODY IS NOBODY campaign

Focus on women’s public welfare

This lingerie brand has also contributed to women’s public welfare in China. In 2020, the company donated 3.72 million RMB worth of supplies to fight the pandemic. Later that year, the brand cooperated with Jiahui Medical to hold a public lecture on breast cancer prevention and treatment. In 2022, the brand launched a new public welfare project called “Neiwai Cloud Plan”, where 1% of the income from selected products in their new collection will be donated to the China Women’s Development Foundation to support initiatives like “Her Entrepreneurship Plan”, helping the development and growth of Chinese businesswomen.

Strategy 2: Partnership with female celebrity

On August 19th, 2020, Neiwai announced that the Hong Kong singer-songwriter and actress Faye Wong would become its global spokesperson. The brand’s decision to choose Faye Wong as its global spokesperson was strategic, as Wong’s personality and image closely align with the brand’s mission of promoting comfort, freedom, and natural beauty.

Faye Wong as the brand’s global brand ambassador
Source: Zhihu, Faye Wong as the brand’s global brand ambassador

Strategy 3: Integration of online and offline channels

Neiwai holds monthly open discussions on body diversity on Weibo and Wechat, such as “Should there be body shape standards?” and “Can we talk about breasts?” These discussions easily resonate with women consumers and increase their loyalty to the brand. They also have a special video column called “Body Talk” on Weibo, featuring different women’s life stories, and giving girls of all sizes a voice.

For offline marketing, the lingerie company set up a photo-exhibition hall for the NO BODY IS NOBODY (微而足道,无分你我) campaign. The exhibition included a photo wall, where visitors could leave their own photos to be actively involved in the campaign. The exhibition helped many people to become more self-accepting and encouraged them to share their pictures.

Neiwai places great importance on emotional interaction with its consumers. Through these interactive activities, consumers can deepen their sense of belonging to the brand concept, so as to increase their brand loyalty and engagement.

 NO BODY IS NOBODY’s photo exhibition
Source: SocialBeta, NO BODY IS NOBODY’s photo exhibition

Strategy 4: Co-branding with popular brands

Since its establishment, Neiwai has collaborated with brands from different industries such as food, beverage, and home décor. The goal of the brand’s co-branding strategy is to reach a wider pool of potential consumers.

For the Year of the Rabbit, the lingerie brand teamed up with the famous British children’s book character, Peter Rabbit, to launch a series of co-branded products. The collection integrated Peter Rabbit’s iconic print and carrots into loungewear and accessories for women, men, and children, creating a warm and festive atmosphere for the Chinese New Year and attracting a large number of customers.

Neiwai and Peter Rabbit’s co-branded clothing
Source: Weibo, Neiwai and Peter Rabbit’s co-branded clothing for 2023 Chinese New Year

Strategy 5: Innovative product design

Neiwai is dedicated to product innovation, regularly introducing new items to attract more customers. In 2022, the lingerie company launched the “3D Smile Support” collection, designed to provide support and comfort while conforming to the body’s curves without felling constrained.

3D Smile Support
Source: SocialBeta, the brand new “3D Smile Support” collection

Obstacles for Neiwai’s Continued Success

Neiwai achieved remarkable success in the Chinese lingerie market, but it is not without its challenges. The brand faces strong competition from domestic DTC brands, including Ubras and Bananain, and struggles to maintain its leading position in promoting female consciousness as more and more competitors adopt similar marketing strategies.

Pain point 1: Stress from domestic competitors

Neiwai faces with strong competition from domestic DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands, such as Ubras and Bananain, which have achieved impressive market performance and secured substantial financing.

Pain point 2: Many other brands are using feminism in marketing

As more and more competitors use feminism and women’s empowerment in their marketing strategy, it has become a challenge for Neiwai to maintain its leading position in promoting female consciousness in this highly competitive environment.

Unraveling Neiwai’s marketing strategy in the Chinese lingerie market

  • Neiwai focused on designing lingerie specifically for the Chinese female body.
  • By establishing partnerships with prominent female celebrities like Faye Wong, the lingerie company was able to elevate the brand image to a high-end lingerie brand.
  • The integration of online and offline channels contributed a lot to the growth of the lingerie brand.
  • Neiwai’s co-branding initiatives have enabled the company to appeal to a wide range of consumers and enhance brand loyalty.
  • Constantly innovating products has helped ensure the long-term viability of the brand.
  • However, domestic DTC brands with strong market performance and financing are giving Neiwai a run for its money.
  • Furthermore, other domestic and overseas lingerie brands are now using feminist messaging in their marketing strategies, which is putting pressure on Neiwai to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Author: Lyu Ai

See our full report on NEIWAI’s China market strategy