It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the styles they sell or the business strategies they deploy, la Vie en Rose always wants to find the perfect fit for its customers.
“We think of our brand this way: It’s the first garment that touches the woman’s body. It’s lingerie, sleepwear and swimwear – all very intimate apparel,” said Mirna Saffouri, Vice President, Marketing & Digital Strategy, la Vie en Rose. “It’s not like an oversized shirt. It has to fit perfectly.”
There is a commonality among women – they want to feel empowered and they want to look their best. That cuts across all ages and cultures. That’s why our brand resonates across the globe.
Like the products they sell, la Vie en Rose also believes in creating close connections with customers – ones built on listening, reacting and meeting their needs. Helping grow online and off, that approach to business now defines the brand’s place with a new generation of shoppers.
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Growing new connections
Founded in 1985, la Vie en Rose has stood out as a Canadian leader in the lingerie and swimwear industry since its acquisition by François Roberge in 1996. Based in Montréal, the company has more than 4,500 employees and 273 stores across Canada under 2 separate brands, la Vie en Rose and Bikini Village.
Internationally, la Vie en Rose has seen incredible growth – nearly 400 stores in 19 countries, including 45 stores opened in the last 3 years alone with new locations in the Philippines and India.
Traditionally, the brand has appealed to women in their 30s and 40s, personally and professionally established. But there is a shift downward in recent years. Women in their 20s, even older teens, have turned their attention toward the brand when direct competitors and other retailers closed.
The la Vie en Rose team first noticed the opportunity when they saw a lift in categories that previously underperformed. It seems that items associated with younger shoppers were suddenly in demand. While the age swing was a bit of a surprise, the brand’s core appeal across generations was not.
“One thing that ties all women together is that they’re all looking for comfort,” Saffouri said. “Even if they’re looking for lingerie or swimwear, they want something that’s comfortable, that they feel confident in, that they feel good in. That’s why our brand resonates no matter the woman’s age.” What these new, younger shoppers did require, however, was a different approach to understanding their needs.
Traditionally, la Vie en Rose counted on its strong brick-and-mortar presence to connect with shoppers. “We’re always there. We’re everywhere,” Saffouri laughed. “But we knew for this younger generation that wasn’t going to be enough.”
The brand began to speak more and more to shoppers through its online and digital channels. On social media, they targeted audiences better, tested different types of content and adapted the message for different audiences, cultures and platforms, all toward understanding the customer better.
“Every day, we understand our shoppers’ behaviour a bit better,” Saffouri said, noting that digital channels continue to grow with 200,000 Instagram followers and more than a million followers globally across all channels. “It’s exciting to see that we’re reaching them where they are.
Offering more than hope
Those conversations are not all about products either, as the younger generation of shoppers requires deeper conversations, often about social commitment – a conversation la Vie en Rose is more than happy to have.
Since its creation, the Roses of Hope Foundation has donated more than $3 million to organizations dedicated to improving women’s lives. More than half of this amount has gone toward the fight against breast cancer and the support offered to women affected by this disease. Beyond that, the foundation has supported programs dedicated to aiding women in difficult situations or helping young women afford clothing to attend prom.
We have to keep asking ourselves, challenging ourselves to adapt to women’s needs – no matter what they are. We’re extending the foundation’s reach beyond just health and toward the well-being and empowerment of women. That’s really appreciated by our followers and our clientele.
From diversity and inclusion to environment and conservation, the brand follows the lead of its customers when it comes to the issues that need support.
“The well-being of women goes through all of these topics,” Saffouri said. “Sometimes, the answer to what needs to be done is as simple as listening to our customers. Sure, we have to make tough choices. But if an issue encourages women and supports their well-being, we try to find ways to support it.”
Eyeing the future
As la Vie en Rose looks forward, it does so with a host of ideas in mind. What does the brick-and-mortar store of the future look like? How do they embrace new shopping channels like video? What does a future customer loyalty program look like? How can they begin to use technology in new ways where they are not just analyzing customer behaviours, but predicting them?
They ask these questions, Saffouri notes, with the knowledge they can be answered thanks to the customer relationships they have established.
“We have to start anticipating what shoppers’ needs are going to be. We need to carefully think about where the customer is going to be and meet them there – and the best way to know that is by listening to them along the way.”
- The younger generation of shoppers is keen to hear how you’re making a difference in people’s lives.
- Having a strong connection based on listening, reacting and meeting needs helps customers feel more secure and connected with a brand – and that can lead to growing customer retention.
- The best way to find out what gesture, program or initiative combinations work best is to test, learn, repeat and scale up quickly when you achieve success.
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