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NEIWAI in the West

The global expansion of the Chinese underwear brand, NEIWAI in the West

NEIWAI is an original Chinese lingerie brand that actively targets Western consumers. It was founded in 2012 and started growing alongside China’s ecommerce platforms. The Chinese underwear brand has become a pioneer of China’s body positivity movement, but the brand is making waves outside of China as well. In 2018 online growth rate of NEIWAI products reached 500% worldwide, and sales reached 150 million yuan.

The history of NEIWAI: inspired by strong women

In 2012, Liu Xiaolu, a graduate of the University of Hong Kong, worked on strategy at Coca-Cola, and was also planning a women’s consumer goods and luxury goods brand for an American consulting company. The mother of the creator of the NEIWAI brand has been making lingerie for 30 years. This prompted Liu Xiaolu to pay attention to the problems of the underwear industry in China. She noticed that many popular brands’ designs of underwear are uncomfortable.

Currently NEIWAI has over 1.5 million loyal customers worldwide and is backed by a diverse group of investment institutions in China. Giants such as ZhenFund, Xiangfeng and Qiming Venture Capital have invested in the brand. Today, the Chinese underwear brand has over 500 employees in China and the USA.

The main concept of NEIWAI

The core concept of NEIWAI is comfort. So, in the spring and summer of 2020, the brand launched a series of zero-sensitivity bras using hypoallergenic cotton materials and an innovative half-size system. In addition, NEIWAI consumers in the West can buy the latest NEIWAI ACTIVE sports product line, released in August 2020, with varying strength levels. The Chinese underwear brand has always strived to create the most comfortable rimless underwear, so that more and more women live more confidently.

the Chinese underwear brand’s top products are comfortable bras NEIWAI in the West
Image: Screeshot of NEIWAI’s English website, the Chinese underwear brand’s top products are comfortable bras

Unlike underwear brands that focus on the appearance and function of underwear, NEIWAI products pursue “respect for women’s physical feelings and only please women themselves.” 

Partnership with high-quality European factories

NEIWAI partnered with a leading handicraft fabric supplier with 50 years of textile experience in Milan, Italy. They developed the use of free-cut, unmarked fabrics on bra products, which greatly improved the wearing comfort of bras.

The Chinese underwear brand uses Italian nylon, high quality mercerized cotton, 100% silk and washed silk and European modern lace. This makes the brand’s underwear pleasant and comfortable to wear.

NEIWAI in the West: Marketing Channels.

NEIWAI advertisement targeting women in the US NEIWAI in the West
Source: Facebook screen shot, NEIWAI advertisement targeting women in the US

NEIWAI uses a variety of methods to target consumers in the West. There are official accounts of the brand on Instagram and Facebook. On its official Facebook page, the brand posts various giveaways and information about discounts. For example, in honor of Mother’s Day, the Chinese brand launched an advertising campaign where users could get a free Barely Zero bra with every order of $100. The brand also posts influencers promoting NEIWAI in the West for example, some American bloggers post photos in NEIWAI underwear.

NEIWAI, blogger Karissa Duncan NEIWAI in the West
Source: Instagram, NEIWAI, blogger Karissa Duncan

The Instagram account NEIWAI currently has 18 thousand subscribers. The brand also makes posts and stories featuring large and micro-insta bloggers.

Instagram, NEIWAI  NEIWAI  in the West
Source: Instagram, NEIWAI

NEIWAI did not change the name for Western audiences in order to maintain authenticity. However, the brand adopted the slogan “Made To Live In” to push the concept that lingerie offers freedom for both body and mind.

Marketing campaigns of NEIWAI: body positivity

At the end of February 2020, NEIWAI launched the NO BODY IS NOBODY campaign in both China and the West. The concept of the brand is that their products will be comfortable for any body and any body is perfect. This project featured 8 women representing diversity and inclusiveness. This bold decision of the Chinese company was appreciated by Western consumers. In addition to telling stories about eight women with different body types in short videos and photos, the campaign included a variety of content about the meaning of body positivity.

NEIWAI campaign NEIWAI in the West
Source: Jing Daily, NEIWAI campaign

NEIWAI’s first target for global expansion is the US

The first Western market that NEIWAI entered is the USA. Sales there began in early fall 2020, and they are showing steady growth. The brand planned to open a physical store in San Francisco, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand currently only sells through its official website. San Francisco has 35% of Asian population and the market is relatively open, so the brand has a chance to succeed. Products supplied to the US market will meet the needs of both Western and Asian consumers.

The purpose of opening offline stores in the West for NEIWAI is to provide a complete understanding of the brand concept as well as the brand image. NEIWAI has more than 110 stores in China and plans to provide offline channels to consumers in the US in the near future.

Liu Xiaolu claims that both online and offline use the same business model and the same prices. In a market environment where the value of new Internet innovations is rising, offline stores can more easily achieve a natural flow of users while eliminating the lack of consumers’ experience in online lingerie shop. The price of their products is relatively moderate, ranging from $10 to $50, which can also contribute to the brand’s success.

Future plans of NEIWAI in the West

NEIWAI now has three main design teams in lingerie, ready-to-wear and sports. The head of the brand believes that compared to large commercial brands, the brand is only entering a stage of sustainable growth. The analysis of Google Trends shows that the interest towards this Chinese brand is growing and gaining momentum in 2021.

NEIWAI search results NEIWAI in the West
Data Source: Google Trends, “NEIWAI” search results

In the future, NEIWAI plans to focus on sub-categories of bras without wires. In addition, the brand will gradually expand to categories such as men’s, children’s and household items, bringing elegant oriental aesthetics to all corners of the world.

The Chinese underwear brand is also promoting its sports line to the Western customers. The brand claims that their underwear is suitable for a variety of sports from ballet, yoga, pilates to boxing, tennis, and all-around training.

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