When mum-to-be Tracey Montford sought lingerie for her changing figure she discovered a global dearth of fashionable maternity underwear. After three years of research and two and a half in business, Cake Lingerie now has international retailers stocking its colourful alternatives. Sales and marketing director Keith Hyams says they chose the name Cake because it was easy to remember, translated well into other languages, and sounded playful. Marketing involved integration: "We teamed up with some stores, with the media, with consumers," he says. Retailers showed where Cake sat in the marketplace. "It was interesting to go to the stores and see how they projected the brand." Cake also relied on PR to obtain media coverage, observing how the message reached consumers. Hyams notes this was different in every country. "In the US, they consider breastfeeding as functional: that's how it's dealt with in the media. We had to say 'it has all the functionality of an equivalent product, but you can have a little bit of colour'," he explains. Conversely, demand from Italy dictates the next big thing to be Cake's plunge maternity bras. "In Italy it's all about the cleavage. If people can have cleavage while they're pregnant, why not?" Marketing needs to bear this in mind, Hyams remarks, "Like the use of the word sexy. The correlation to the word sexy is different in each market. You can change wording around slightly and find reception to the product much greater, so it's constant tweaking as the market evolves." As well as responding to consumers' ideas for new product, Cake also directly involves customers in its marketing. Its Real Mums Real Fit campaign, run in a number of countries, calls for customers to be the face of Cake Lingerie and has received a "surprising" response, including 200 applications from The Netherlands. The writing's on the cake:
- Have a separate marketing plan and strategy for each market.
- Don't get carried away with research; test the market and get a feel for the environment.
- Ensure your domain name is available in your export market, or be prepared to buy it.