‘We’re all figuring out what our new reality is’: How DTC underwear brand Thinx is diversifying its media mix with more OOH

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Thinx, a direct-to-consumer period underwear brand, is expanding its out-of-home advertising efforts by way of its first digital out-of-home advertising campaign that it launched earlier this month.

The period-proof underwear company is known for its cheeky social media presence and New York City subway ads. Back in 2015, Thinx launched its OOH subway strategy, appearing alongside popular e-commerce brands like Casper bedding and Hims men’s wellness brand. Now, Thinx is moving above ground, launching a street-level, digital billboard for a week in mid-September in New York City, where the company is based.

Digital consumption is on the rise but even still, a sense of connectivity in real life is what consumers are searching for.
Ashley Karim-Kincey, vice president of media at Dagger, a full-service agency

It’s a brand awareness play that leverages user-generated content and video to stand out as competition from newly launched brands like The Period Company and Cora Period Underwear as they threaten Thinx’s reported 70% market share, per Crystal Zerrenner, chief growth officer at Thinx. “Our goal is to continue to be the bold leader in the space,” she said.

“As people get out into the world again, and they aren’t heads down, we wanted to make sure that we reflect that consumer behavior,” Zerrenner said of the out-of-home strategy.

Vaccine rollout and people getting back outside are among the reasons Thinx is delving further into the out-of-home space. Like many DTC brands, Thinx is looking to diversify its media spend in light of Apple’s looming data privacy crackdown, in which iOS 14 muddied targeting capabilities for social media advertising.

“Digital consumption is on the rise but even still, a sense of connectivity in real life is what consumers are searching for,” said Ashley Karim-Kincey, vice president of media at Dagger, a full-service creative agency. “Market momentum will push the slow-to-move brands to get on board and start phasing out old single-channel media planning and media buying methodologies.”

Currently, the majority of Thinx ad dollars goes toward digital advertising, especially social media. Zerrenner declined to outline details of Thinx ad spend. But according to Kantar, the DTC brand spent more than $450,000 on advertising in Q1 of this year, up from an estimated $58,000 in Q1 of last year. In 2019, the underwear brand spent nearly $6 million on advertising. Those figures do not include social media ad spend as Kantar does not track those numbers.

Per Facebook analytics, the period brand has at least two paid ads currently running across the platform, leveraging social media support in this digital OOH campaign and making it Thinx’s first cross-channel campaign as the period brand looks to create a presence both in real life and online.

Thinxs pivot to expand its OOH strategy is a smart one, according to Allen Adamson, brand analyst and co-founder of brand consultancy Metaforce. “Outdoor is underrated in its ability to get noticed,” Adamson said, noting that Thinx interactive billboard helps the brand capture a bigger share of potential shopper attention. “With people driving more and less on mass transportation, it’s opened up as another channel again.”

As technology develops and digitizes the out-of-home category, marketers say it’ll become a more crowded space. “Brands shouldn’t do it without a corresponding mobile geo-targeted strategy with it,” Michael DeLeo, director of media at R/GA said in an email. “As the platforms evolve, I think mobile becomes even more important than OOH or DOOH as everything opens up.

That being said, DeLeo notes that Thinx is headed in the right direction with its interactive billboard that more so capitalizes on curious travelers than netting new customers. “For a strategy to reach new customers, they’d want to expand their efforts outside of NYC and absolutely expand their digital spend,” he added.

With nearly a decade in business, Thinx is looking to scale with plans to diversify its media mix. According to Zerrenner, the Thinx team will continue to bank on digital channels, leveraging tactics such as paid search, platform publishers, digital display and programmatic.

“We’re all figuring out what our new reality is,” Zerrenner said.


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