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“It’s important to strip back the purpose or value that your customer finds in your product. The simpler the brand promise, the easier it is to create a path to expansion.”


Online Clothier, Bonobos, Listens to Consumers, Launches Sport Shirt Category

In this Brand Innovator Spotlight, Richard Mumby, VP Marketing at Bonobos shares how the male focused e-tailer is launching new categories while maintaining its brand positioning.

Brandon Gutman: People tend to think of Bonobos as an online company selling men’s pants. How does that affect the Bonobos brand positioning?

Richard Mumby: Bonobos was started to address a common need that guys have for better fitting, higher quality, more distinctive clothes. While we started by solving these issues for guys with pants, we can address the same consumer needs across product categories. The Bonobos brand promise- to deliver guys high quality product and world-class service – should extend across categories. With each product we develop – from pants to sport shirts, blazers to swimwear, we ensure the fit is flattering, that there are creative details, and that guys would enjoy wearing them. We work really hard to maintain our value proposition across our products, and we use a consistent brand voice to market our products – fun, approachable, and humorous.

How do you drive cross sell from a hallmark category?

Our pants address the plague of “Khaki Diaper Butt”. We joke internally that the launch of Bonobos’ sport shirts have similarly solved “Billowing Muffin Top”. Tapered along the waist, Bonobos sport shirts offer a “just right” fit that is neither too tight, nor too loose, for a made-to-measure look and feel.  While pants continue to be our leading product, our biggest opportunities are to acquire multi-category customers and educate our pants-loyalists about our other products.

For new customers, we have deployed two new types of creative ads: brand awareness with broader, multi-category lifestyle images and specific assets highlighting non-pant products. To address our current customers, we invest the time to segment mailers, suggesting shirts that look great with recent or previous pant purchases. We also employ retargeting ads to help guys complete a look once they have bought another product.

Why the emphasis on sport shirts?

We receive a lot of feedback through social media and our customer service Ninjas, and we saw a lot of demand for more casual button down shirts; after all, guys typically buy more shirts than pants. Our customers are incredibly loyal and we have amazing metrics around brand sentiments and repeat rates. Their interest in our sport shirts category spurred our excitement and motivation to really invest our time on this product. Bonobos’ VP of Merchandising, Brad Andrews, previously Men’s DMM at J. Crew, oversaw the development of our expanded assortment of sport shirts.

I have a lot of confidence that the enthusiasm for our brand – which originated in our pants business – will accelerate demand for the expanding shirting business. We continue to drive awareness around the shirting business through targeted email campaigns – we continue to have great engagement through email, on-site messaging, and ads – online, print and radio are all working well for us. Social media is a large part of how we interact with many of our customers. This week, we allowed customers to name some of our new sport shirts, receiving hundreds of submissions. We’re seeing that our customers seem to be really engaged with Bonobos as a multi-category retailer and there is a sense of partnership between Bonobos and our fans.

What advice do you have for other marketers who are pivoting from one product?

It’s important to strip back the purpose or value that your customer finds in your product. The simpler the brand promise, the easier it is to create a path to expansion. We understood that we had a great product with our pants and knew that with talented merchandisers and designers, we could extend the same principles across other product categories. The challenge from a marketing perspective is developing a clear articulation of brand benefits to your customers as you continue to expand.