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Sara Blakely Case Study: Brand Strategy Breakdown

Aug 19, 2023
Sara Blakely Case Study

Let me preface everything that follows in today’s newsletter by admitting something… Daniel and I are NOT experts when it comes to women’s shapewear.

But you don’t have to be an expert in women’s undergarments to recognize the genius behind SPANX and its founder, Sara Blakely. 

As two middle aged males, we’re certainly not SPANX’s target audience (however they do now have a Men’s line 🤔) — but when you build a brand with some personality and passion, that’s how powerful a brand can become.

Let’s get into it…

💼 The Brand: Sara Blakely

Back in 1998, SPANX founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white pants. She grabbed some scissors and cut the feet off her control top pantyhose and SPANX was born.

💛 The Heart (Purpose & Personality)

We’ve pegged Sara’s brand personality as the “Sophisticated” type. She took a commonplace item — women’s pantyhose — and added a dash of genius, empathy, and sophistication to it.

I’m not a female, but I am married to one, and I know how frustrating it can be for her to pick out what to wear that not only looks good, but makes her feel good when she’s wearing it.

Sara understood this on an intimate level (pun intended) and now serves women around the world solving wardrobe woes, offering bras, underwear, leggings, activewear and more.

👤 The Head (Strategy & Positioning)

Sara’s brand personality type allowed her to position her pantyhose line in a unique way. It’s not “just” pantyhose. It’s an undergarment that makes women feel better when they put on their clothes.

Sara had the empathy to know how much better her product could make people feel about their outfits.

This allowed her in 2000 to sell a pair of SPANX for $38 when the average price of other pantyhose was around $10 then.

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✋ The Hands (Tactics)

Now, let’s get practical… here’s how Sara Blakely has carried out her strategy. Several brilliant lessons to be learned here.

  • Sara did DTC in-person… initially. Forget drop shipping. Sara believed in her product so strongly that in the early days she regularly sold her product through in-person demonstrations. This allowed her to connect with customers, gather feedback, and refine her products based on real-time interactions.

  • Sara sent her product to celebrities. But the way she went about this shows just how sophisticated she is. To get it in Oprah’s hands, she actually sent the product to Oprah’s stylist. The culminated in Oprah featuring it on her annual “Favorite Things” list. Buh-rilliant 🤯

  • Sara added her personality to the packaging. Sara was a stand up comic before SPANX so she even incorporated that aspect of her personality into the brand. She hated the way she felt lingerie companies talked down to women in their marketing. Instead of using flowery language she decide to use cute, clever names like “Bra-llelujah” and “Tight-End Tights.” She also used a cartoon mascot named Sunny that’s stood in stark contrast to its competitors bland brand packaging. 

  • BONUS: Sara shares her success. When a large investment firm purchased a major stake in the company a few years ago, she gifted EVERY employee a 1st Class Trip to anywhere in the world and $10k to use on the vacation. Wild.  

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