The direct-to-consumer U.K.-based company PrettyLittleThing is trying to carve out more of the American market to build its overall business.
That focus mirrors that of other fast-fashion specialists like Shein, Temu, Asos, Zalando, Romwe and Zaful, which are all vying for more price-conscious domestic shoppers. PrettyLittleThing’s chief marketing officer Nicki Capstick mapped out some of the upcoming initiatives Friday.
In the U.S. for a 10-day stay that included hosting media types at a New York City dinner, she also touched down for Wednesday’s launch party for model and influencer Lori Harvey’s upcoming capsule collection and advertising campaign. With the business established in the U.K., the brand has set its sights on the U.S. due to its potential to drive growth.
Estimating there are 30 million to 33 million females living in the U.K. versus the 167 million women in the U.S., she said that base is where the company sees the most potential. Asked if the Stateside focus has been mostly driven by the downturn in U.K. and European sales, Capstick said “absolutely not,” claiming they continue to grow through a loyal customer base in the U.K., who shop frequently and will be built upon and scaled beyond that.
Last year sales were reportedly more than $881.7 million — a 0.3 percentage increase compared to the previous year. U.K. sales climbed 6.4 percent to upward of $484.95 million and U.S. sales were slightly up by 0.1 percent to $260.1 million. Company executives declined to disclose figures, prior to its public figures being released. The U.K. accounts for about 70 percent of PrettyLittleThing’s overall business, the U.S. represents about 15 percent and other countries comprise the remaining 15 percent of volume, Capstick said. The five-year plan is to increase the U.S. business to match that of the U.K.
The August opening of an Elizabethtown, Pa., warehouse is one of the ways that the Boohoo-owned e-tailer aims to serve more U.S. shoppers. Naomi Campbell helped to raise the brand’s profile globally by collaborating on a collection earlier and headlining a New York Fashion Week runway show in September.
Having surveyed 1,400 women in the U.S. through a U.K. research agency, PrettyYoungThing has been using some of the information that it mined from their responses to move ahead. For example, Harvey, who is already a brand ambassador, is someone PrettyLittleThing customers “have been crying out for for a long time” via consumer research. Her capsule collection debuts Wednesday, as will ads, billboards and social media that were shot by Alexandra Alva. “We think she will really resonate with the 16- to 25-year-old demographic that we’re going for,” Capstick said of Harvey.
With that in mind the company had an 11-state tour of 19 East Coast college campuses to stage pop-up events. At each stop students could climb aboard a unicorn-adorned converted school bus to check out PrettyLittleThing merchandise, play games, post photos and pick up vouchers. That initiative was in response to survey respondents indicating that they wanted to see and touch the products and engage with the brand, Capstick said. They could not, however, walk away with new products, but they could use the iPads on the bus to order some. Describing the response as “so crazy,” she said the company is looking to do that again next year.
“It’s really important to ensure we’re differentiating ourselves from the online field of fashion players in the market,” Capstick said.
Asked to quantify the response to Naomi Campbell’s collaboration, which featured designs from Victor Anate and Theophilio’s Edvin Thompson, Capstick said, “There are multiple ways of looking at these things. It’s not always direct return on investment. We generate that understanding over time. The press coverage and the social media reach that we attained was much bigger than we have ever seen from any previous campaigns. We had the 360[-degree] marketing approach to make sure we were hitting the customer with every single touch point. The product sold really well and we’ve reordered a lot of the items.”
A black blazer dress, a studded dress and a jumpsuit were bestsellers from Campbell’s collection, Capstick said. With the party season and the holidays approaching, the e-tailer expects dresses and other festive looks from the range to be popular.
Declining to identify key competitors, Capstick said the brand is constantly monitoring the wider landscape, including which other brands have emerged onto the market, pricing and promotional perspectives and how others are using social media to advertise. That said, PrettyLittleThing is focused on its growth through Gen Z-ers. Opening freestanding retail stores is not being planned, but pop-ups are being considered for the U.K., U.S. and possibly Europe.
In response to many consumers’ tightened spending and “cost challenges,” the fast-fashion resource has maintained its entry-level price point of $7, but is offering more styles for that amount compared to a year ago. “Everyone probably has less disposable income than they did pre-pandemic. We want to be sure that we’re bringing those affordable prices to the customer. We’re constantly learning from what she is buying and what she wants to see on the website,” Capstick ahead.
Next year the company wants to tap into the U.S. music scene with emerging artists on TikTok, where many PrettyLittleThing shoppers engage, being of particular interest. Potential partnerships are being explored with musicians. Separately, brand partnerships, something that PrettyLittleThings has dabbled in, are being considered.