Melanie and Dan Marsden, Co-Founders of Lounge Underwear and keynote speakers at IRX, discuss the social-born brand’s “insane growth” in turnover of 300% during the pandemic, plus their plans to focus harder on data, sustainability and real-life experiences for their community to drive long-term growth.
With only £1,000, we started Lounge from home in 2015 and grew organically with a digital-first strategy, using the power of influencer marketing. During the pandemic, our turnover skyrocketed 300% from £14m to £54m. Our staff grew from 35 people to 150 across Lounge HQ and our warehouse space in Solihull.
When the pandemic hit and customer demand rose quickly, we didn’t change our strategy – we didn’t need to. The blueprint of our company was set to set up for a situation like the pandemic, not on purpose of course, but we are fortunate that we do not have any brick-and-mortar stores and had a strong digital-first strategy in place.
The distribution side was tough though. Everyone in our HQ was working from home and warehouse staff were socially distanced so we couldn’t get as much out of the door as we previously could. Customer communications were very transparent, and our customers were pretty understanding of the situation. There is an element of transparency that we push across everything we do. We’ve got more than 2.5 million followers on Instagram and transparency allows us to instantly connect and remain close to our community. The pandemic really allowed us to see the power of social.
As part of our long-term growth, we will be focusing harder on data and sustainability, and moving into real-life experiences. We saw insane growth in terms of new customers during the pandemic, so we need to make sure we are listening to them and harnessing this data for future growth. Sustainability is something we were pushing pre-Covid, but it’s starting to come to fruition now as our products are on track to be sustainably sourced or made from recycled fabrics by the end of the year.
We also want to move into real-life experiences, harnessing the UK first and then branching out globally. Everyone may be moving towards digital, but we still see the power in real-life experiences, especially for a community like ours that feels so close-knit but has never actually met each other. We may do pop-up events, but rather than selling underwear it would be about giving women an experience that ties into our brand values.
The power of our business is in our people. We have a C-suite with an average age of 28 years old – they have grown up with social media and eCommerce. At a time when many businesses are moving away from the office, we have opened our new HQ. We have a flexible offering, but we believe in being in the office because we are a business that thrives on collaboration.
For a company that is so young and has grown at an unusual rate, it is difficult to forecast and predict future growth. We can try to predict the next 12 or 24 months, but your guess is as good as mine. Our aim is to be the biggest underwear company in the world. It doesn’t matter if it takes five or 50 years, but that’s our ultimate goal. We will grow as fast as we possibly can.
Melanie and Dan Marsden are keynote speakers at IRX (InternetRetailing Expo) & eDX taking place on 13 & 14 October 2021 at the NEC, Birmingham. Register – for free – here.