Building brand loyalty among fashion-savvy Canadian tweens is the goal of lingerie retail chain La Senza as it branches into tween girls fashion with the La Senza Girl chain.
There are currently 11 stores open in Ontario and Quebec, with plans to open seven more in major cities across Canada by December 1999. The 185-store retailer (Canada’s largest specialty lingerie chain) decided there was a niche for a tween girls-only chain.
‘There was no real tween-focused chain that was an environment only for them and not a section in the back [in Canada],’ says Karine Wascher, VP of marketing for La Senza Girl. La Senza is a division of Suzy Shier, which currently owns 463 stores across Canada including lingerie retailer Silk & Satin and women’s clothing stores Suzy Shier, Anne.x and LA Express. The lingerie market in Canada is US$545 million a year.
La Senza Girl will attract tween customers and their moms using sophisticated promotional techniques, kid-friendly customer service and futuristic store design. At this point, the chain carries only La Senza Girl brand merchandise with the exception of some Hello Kitty apparel and Sketchers shoes. Wascher says the stores will identify other hot brands to add to the collection as they see fit. ‘We’re treating the tween market as a very sophisticated fashion market. Just because they’re 12 years old doesn’t mean they don’t know what’s happening,’ she says.
La Senza Girl is intent on reaching the tween buying demo (according to YTV’s Tween Report, Canadian girls ages eight to 14 spend an average US$608 a year on clothes) by maintaining a competitive price point. Jeans are in the US$23 range, while tops sell from US$16 to US$26. Also building into the brand loyalty concept is an Internet site (which currently sends e-mail to 5,000 members biweekly) and in-store cyberstations where tweens can check out the site (www.lasenzagirl.com), which contains contests, fashion tips and games.
For about US$13, girls can purchase a La Senza V.I.P. club card that entitles them to a 10% discount on all items and other discount coupons. The card has a funky holographic design that has proven popular with customers, says Wascher.
Marketing strategy at this point is concentrated on in-store promotions like shopping parties. Wascher says although the store carries the same name as lingerie retailer La Senza, the La Senza Girl focus will be on head-to-toe fashions, not lingerie for tweens. She says the retailer wanted to build on the brand loyalty already established with women in Canada. Wascher says expansion into the U.S. will likely be the next step.