braless 2In what may be loosely defined as the newest fashion trend, many women, especially Millennials, are opting for the freedom of going braless. While we aren’t seeing the polyester bonfires of the more carefree days, the sales and adornment of unstructured undergarments, sports bras and bralettes are definitely on the uptick.

As a husband and father of two daughters, should I panic? Is this some sort of booby trap? Probably not. In fact, it certainly makes my laundry duty less awkward, as I never really mastered the proper way to fold those spring-loaded contraptions.

What does this quest for comfort by Millennials mean for businesses?

Of immediate concern would be Victoria’s Secret. Approximately 30% of its revenues are derived from those push-up style undergarments. In other words, sales are sagging. Bralette revenues are on the rise, but what does this do to the traditional sexy, in your face branding we are all accustomed to? I’m no Angel, but I would imagine this will cause some jiggling in their marketing strategy.

What about the rest of us? What are we to glean from this double-faceted shift?

First and foremost, if we haven’t already done so, we need to recognize the purchasing power of Millennials. At over 80 million strong, they represent over ¼ of the US population, and have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest demographic. So naturally, they are the Big D.

With respect to marketing opportunity, we must rack our brains on how our brands can gain their support. Here are just a couple of ideas:

We no longer need to Lift and Separate

While they are a distinct group, Millennials actually prefer not to be recognized that way. Even though they come from the “everyone gets a trophy” culture;  they need structure and guidance. But they may not need to be marketed to specifically as a separate group:

“Companies or brands that successfully market to Millennials are ones that recognize that there is no such thing as a ‘Millennial’—just individuals or groups of individuals who are at a similar lifestage and have lived through similar experiences. They want to be treated for who they are, rather than be lumped together and labeled.”

– Fiona O’Donnell, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst

Cross Your Heart

Like so many of us, millennials are loyal when they can trust a brand. Millennials in the US are seven times more likely to give their personal information to a trusted brand than to any other brand. And their friends are their most trusted source of product information.

So when you honor your promises of exceptional customer service, quality products and quick resolutions to issues, they remember and they will reward you for it.

The 18 Hour promise

The beauty of the 18 Hour Bra (so I’m told) was that it didn’t quit working at 5 pm. Constant support is even more critical in today’s marketing environment. Does this mean we have to be available 24/7? No, but we must be responsive, we must be quick to address needs and issues, and we must communicate. Use the phone, email, direct mail, video and social channels to keep your customers engaged and informed and to influence purchasing decisions. In fact, the majority of Millennials surveyed(45%) say a combo — digital ads combined with traditional print channels — are equally or more effective in influencing their brand decision making, compared to either as a standalone channel.

 Hey –  my eyes are up here!!

Let it all hang out.

One of the biggest reasons for this trend is the comfort factor. Garments with underwire can’t be comfortable (again, no first-hand experience here). So go wireless (wait, this isn’t a tech column)!

Create a comfortable environment – not just physically comfortable, but a welcoming, friendly environment in all areas – via the phone, online, and of course, in person.  Warm greetings, a smile and a positive message are the first steps in creating a comfortable environment for your customers. Be perky! If you feel loose, free and comfortable, you customers will know and share in that feeling too!

Anyway, while these suggestions may not be earth shattering, I hope I’ve provided a foundation for consideration. I just feel it’s my sworn duty to keep you abreast of these changing times.

And as always, I appreciate your support!