Three women in underwear

From Comfort to Fun: 3 Ways Underwear Brands Can Appeal to Consumers

Updated: February 13, 2024
4 minutes read

The underwear market is poised for growth and rapid change. In the UK, spending is forecast to increase to £5.2 million by 2028; and the US Men’s underwear market is projected to be up to $7 billion by 2027. Consumers are seeking authenticity from underwear brands, looking for them to showcase what real people look like and leave behind unattainable body standards. As brands look toward inclusive sizing, innovative materials, and new use cases, the future for underwear is bright. Consumers are embracing items for both inner and outerwear occasions, showing off their style, personality, and confidence. 

But budgets are being crunched by rising prices, forcing consumers to consider what they really want to spend their money on. Brands need to provide value to shoppers during this difficult economic period, both monetarily (e.g. sales, bundle options) and non-monetarily (e.g. durable items, good customer service.) And, brands can also stand out by making underwear fun.

Fun Piques Interest

While comfort and fit are still priorities, brands can stand out by making underwear fun. Function is still key for Gen Z and Millennials, and Gen Z are an increasingly important target audience for brands. Fun aspects of underwear items are of greater importance to these generations compared to the general population. Younger consumers are seeking more from their underwear: comfort and fit are necessary, but so are style and colour. To infuse fun into underwear purchases, brands could offer more colours and styles, as well as lean into customisation. Nearly a quarter of consumers are purchasing based on the fun aspects of an item, demonstrating that those aspects shouldn’t be ignored.

Brands can look to offer customisation options, particularly for different occasions, like bachelorette festivities or weddings. They can encourage consumers to leave feedback on social media or run different polls to see what consumers are interested in next. Getting consumers involved in the development process makes them feel heard and provides them with options that they actually want to see.

Underwear Brands Can Benefit From Impulse Purchases

While the majority of consumers purchase underwear based on need, there is ample opportunity to drive impulse purchases. Nearly 40% of consumers purchase underwear even if they don’t need to replace items. 

Underwear brands can look to partner with other clothing brands to offer complete outfit suggestions. Knowing that underwear can influence a consumer’s mood, brands can suggest “power outfits” for occasions such as interviews, or the first day of a new job. These suggestions could also take place at checkout (especially online) when consumers are purchasing other clothing items. Empowerment can flow from the whole outfit itself, and underwear can be part of these outfit suggestions.

Taking the lead from MeUndies, brands could also lean into seasonality offerings. Seasonal underwear drives exclusivity for the time and brings a little more joy to the season. It also creates impulse purchases, as consumers might want the item because of its limited availability, even if they don’t need underwear at the moment.

Younger Consumers Are Open to Brand Discovery

Generation Z and Millenials, are less likely to be as brand loyal as older generations, making them a prime target for underwear brands. They are conscious of the brands they are shopping for, looking into what the brand stands for and how their values align (or not) with the brand.

Younger consumers also desire a well-rounded experience from brands and retailers. Brands can offer personalisation options and can include post-purchase follow-ups to check in with consumers. Follow-ups would enable brands to see if customers need anything adjusted or corrected, and encourage them to leave reviews. It’s also a way to build a relationship with the consumer, and potentially earn their loyalty, communicating with them from the start of their purchase journey through to their next discovery.

What We Think

When deciding what underwear to purchase, consumers prioritise comfort and fit. The pandemic accelerated comfort as a priority but even as they enter back into offices and social activities, consumers want to feel comfortable all day long. Style and colour will be important factors, but comfort will remain the priority for consumers purchasing underwear.

Additionally, since consumers have been pulling back on spending, underwear brands will need to give consumers a reason to make purchases. Brands can invest in fun colours and styles to perk up at-home living, and also remind consumers that underwear is a necessity, even if the rest of their wardrobe is otherwise sufficient. To learn more about our research on retail trends, check out the Mintel store to buy a report today. For access to our free content and insights, subscribe to become a member of the Mintel Spotlight community.

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Katie Hansen
Katie Hansen

Katie is Mintel’s Senior Retail and eCommerce Analyst. She has experience in researching consumer behavior and
enjoys observing the ever-evolving retail landscape. Prior to Mintel, Katie was a strategist at an agency working on brand
and shopper marketing projects. She has a background in writing and marketing.

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