Neiwai: China market case study of a women-empowerment lingerie brand

Neiwai is a Chinese lingerie brand launched in 2012 with the aspiration to create lingerie & loungewear that free wearer’s bodies and minds. The lingerie brand started only selling online and now has grown into a well-established brand with a full range of leisure-wear lines. Now Neiwai has over 110 stores covering more than 30 cities in China. This piece gives insight to Neiwai’s China market strategy.

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Neiwai’s slogan is “All is good, comfy inside and out”. The concept of Neiwai expresses that they focus first on women’s comfort and freedom.

Neiwai's market share on Tmall Neiwai
Source: CBN data, Iimedia, designed by Daxue Consulting, Neiwai’s market share on Tmall

Chinese women’s aesthetics improved, the demand of bras has changed from being “sexy” and “charming” into “natural” and “true self”.

Wireless bra is faster and more convenient to buy due to the elasticity and high compatibility with size, which is more suitable for people’s “fast-paced” consumption habits nowadays.

comparison between Neiwai's new bra and traditional bras Neiwai
Source: Alibaba, designed by Daxue Consulting, comparison between Neiwai’s new bra and traditional bras

Strategy 1: Feminism is in the brand’s DNA

Years before became a social buzz in China, Neiwai has already discussed it as one of its marketing strategies. Now feminism is in the brand’s DNA.

graph on search trend on Baidu "Feminism/女权"
Source: Baidu Index, designed by Daxue Consulting, graph on search trend on Baidu “Feminism/女权”

Neiwai successfully launched an annual campaign NO BODY IS NOBODY in 2020 on the topic of body diversity. Consumer loyalty to the brand has further improved and brand reputation has increased significantly.

The aim is to combat appearance anxiety and body shaming. The campaign features Chinese women with different body shapes and skin tones in their ads.

They have released a photo-shoot of diverse models with empowering slogans. The chosen models are at different stages of their lives, with different body shapes, ages with some “minor flaws” such as obesity, scars, tattoos and flat breasts. The models posed in proud positions showing genuine smiles.

Neiwai's presence on social media Neiwai
Source: Bilibili, Weibo, WeChat, designed by Daxue Consulting, Neiwai’s presence on social media

Strategy 2: Inviting Faye Wong to be brand ambassador

Faye Wong is a Chinese-born Hong Kong singer-songwriter and actress.  By signing Faye Wong as the global brand ambassador, Neiwai is able to approach more audiences and more deeply bound to the independent personality of the ambassador. This campaign also released a new brand slogan “All is well, be free and comfy”.

Faye Wong influence as Neiwai's global brand ambassador Neiwai
Source: Zhihu, Weibo, designed by Daxue Consulting, Faye Wong influence as Neiwai’s global brand ambassador

Strategy 3: Co-branding with popular brands

Since 2019, Neiwai has been co-branding with brands from different industries such as food, beverage and home décor. The goal of Neiwai’s co-branding is to promote new products to potential consumers.

China rising fashion brands report, Timeline of Neiwai’s co-branding with popular brands Neiwai
Source: Daxue consulting and Double V. Training & Consultancy; China rising fashion brands report, Timeline of Neiwai’s co-branding with popular brands

Strategy 4: Expand offline stores while traditional players were closing

Neiwai launched its first offline store in 2016 in Shanghai. After 5 years of expansion, Neiwai now has over 110 offline stores covering core business districts in the 1st-tier and 2nd-tier cities.

Expand in the right timing

  1. Ahead of domestic DTC (direct-to-consumers)

Ubras (established in 2016)

2019 – first store in Shanghai

2021 – 10 stores in 5 cities

Banana in 蕉内 (established in 2016)

2021 – First brick-and-motor store in Shenzhen

  • Traditional retail competitors were closing stores
  • Cosmo Lady (established in 1998, one of the biggest domestic lingerie brands) closed 362 stores in 2017 and 743 in 2019.
  • Victoria’s Secret was closing inefficient stores in China

Uplift brand image

Neiwai’s offline stores influence on sales Neiwai
Source: Daxue consulting and Double V. Training & Consultancy; China rising fashion brands report, Neiwai’s offline stores influence on sales.

Strategy 5: extend product lines to lengthen brand’s life circle

Neiwai started its iconic product, wireless bras, but has kept growing the product lines and now has become a brand with full range of leisure-wear. This strategy helps Neiwai find more growth opportunities.

Pain point 1: Stress from domestic competitors

Neiwai has some strong competitors from domestic DTC (direct-to-consumers) brands, such as Ubras, Bananain. All are young brands but with strong market performance and financing.

List of Neiwai's Domestic competitors Neiwai
Source: Alibaba, Open data, designed by Daxue Consulting, List of Neiwai’s Domestic competitors

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

More and more competitors are using feminism, especially women self-joy, as a marketing strategy. Keeping the position as the leader of female consciousness without causing publicity problems is a challenge for Neiwai.

Key points to learn from Neiwai marketing strategy in the Chinese lingerie market

  • Neiwai has established itself as a brand that takes into account Chinese women’s bodies with marketing strategies that empowers its consumers.
  • With Faye Wong as their global ambassador, Neiwai is able to elevate the brand image to a high-end lingerie brand.
  • Multiple and diverse co-brandings has allowed Neiwai to attract consumers that have different profiles and therefore promote their new products.
  • Expanding the presence of offline stores contributed to the growth of the lingerie brand
  • Domestic DTC (direct-to-consumers) brands are strong competitors to Neiwai as they have a strong market performance and financing.
  • Feminism in marketing is no longer Neiwai-exclusive, domestic and overseas lingerie brand are following this path.

See our full report on NEIWAI’s China market strategy