A new report on U.S. women’s bra sizing illustrates the importance of the full-figure segment. With 38C being the top selling bra size nationwide, the study by market research firm, The NPD Group, indicates that expansion into extended sizing, including full-figure and plus sizes, is a growth opportunity for the mature intimate apparel market.
Full-figure sizes (38+) are a growing segment within non-sport bras, now accounting for 43% of dollar sales.
In 2017, U.S. women’s bra sales held steady at nearly $7 billion, but the $5.2 billion non-sport bra segment declined slightly. However, emerging trends in the plus-size market and increased focus on body positivity show full-figure sizes (38+) are a growing segment within non-sport bras, now accounting for 43% of dollar sales. In addition, The Future of Apparel, another new report from NPD, projects dollar growth in non-sport bras through 2019, indicating the segment is ripe for opportunity.
“The underserved full-figure and plus-size market continues to be one of retail’s major merchandising mistakes,“ says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at The NPD Group, Inc. “With retailers focusing on assortment productivity, brands adding new styles become a harder sell in proposition, but size extensions are a straightforward way to expand on successful existing assortments.”
Alpha sizing — commonly referred to as simple-sizing (S/M/L/XL) — is also on the rise in non-sport bras. In 2017, alpha-sized non-sport bras captured 18% of non-sport bra dollar sales, which was an increase of three share points compared to the prior year. This growth directly aligns with the prevalence of comfort trends in overall apparel, according to the report.
“Bra sizing insights at this level of granularity, which are critical to understanding and meeting the needs of the consumer, have not been accessible by the industry up to this point,” Cohen adds. “Loyalty is a natural consequence of personal purchases, and providing the full-figure market with the bra options they seek expands the potential for a loyal customer base.”