Table of Contents
Spanx is a company founded in 1998 by Sara Blakely. It manufactures and markets apparel and hosiery products for women through online retailers, department stores and boutiques located across the US, Australia, Canada and the UK. The key products that the company offer include body shapers, bras, panties, slip, tights, and socks.
The peculiarity of this company is due to the unique story of how its founder, who without any business and economic education, managed to launch a billion dollar organization.
The object of this paper is to analyse which market opportunities existed at the time Sara Blakely decide to create her first body shaper and what type of strategy gave her the chance to successfully exploit these opportunities.
Once a detailed assessment will be made, recommendations to new entrepreneurs will be outlined in order to illustrate the importance of the lessons that Spanx’s case can provide to current business challenges.
From a macro perspective, during the 90’s, the opportunities that the retail industry concerned with shape wears could offer were very difficult to identify. Even if the size of the underwear industry was elevated and its economic situation was stable, the product development was in a stagnated situation. (O'Connor, 2012)
This can be related to the popular misconception among entrepreneurs that it is more important to tackle new and emerging business rather than revitalize a sagging market. Moreover, managing a tired industry often lead the companies to have a blind leadership, unable to have the motivation to spot shifts in customer preferences. The shape ware industry in the 90’s was the corner of the retail industry, focused on providing products perceived as old and uncomfortable.
Sara Blakely, however, was able to recognize that the business opportunities not only existed in the way those products could be manufactured, but also in the way shape wears could be targeted to a new segment of customers.
As a result of this, the only way to change the macro situation of an industry is to change it from the micro level. A simple value proposition that can shift the perception about a product allowed Spanx to start a domino effect throughout out a whole industry. This was done by creating pantyhose that could be invisible under contemporary clothing, combined with a slick and colorful packaging. (Covel, 2008) This combination was able to appeal to a younger demographic, who immediately forgot the old perception of shape wears.
The sustainable advantage of being a new product for an existing market, allowed Spanx to have the access to the whole retail industry. This meant that the market segment that had to be developed for the product could target every woman in the US since all of them were willing to enhance their silhouette.