The lingerie industry faced some drastic changes throughout the last decade, with once leading brands like Victoria's Secret receiving heavy backlash and emerging brands focusing on female empowerment being the new leaders of the market. Recent research has shown that femvertising, a type of brand activism that focuses on diversity and inclusion within the portrayal of females in advertising, plays a vital role in that development. Brand activism has become a decisive factor for young adults to establish a positive attitude towards brands. However, specifically within the German market, brand activism is not present yet within the lingerie industry. This industry continues to sell sensual female underwear and still objectifies women in their advertising. Additionally, previous research has mainly focused on the US-American fashion and lingerie industry. Therefore, to predict German consumers' attitudes towards different portrayals of females in lingerie advertisements, the following question was answered: "To what extent does the use of femvertising or stereotypical portrayal of women in lingerie advertising campaigns predict the attitude of Gen Z and Millenials towards lingerie brands across Germany?" A survey design was used to measure reactions towards different lingerie advertisements and the perceived sexiness of portrayed models amongst 190 participants aged 18 to 41 years old. Relationships between participants' gender, reactions towards femvertising and stereotypical advertising and the perceived sexiness of the displayed female models with the resulting attitudes towards the presented brands were explored. The US-American brand Aerie represented femvertising, and the Italian brand Intimissimi represented the stereotypical portrayal of females. Results showed that a positive reaction towards the advertisement for both brands leads to a positive brand attitude. As expected, gender predicts attitude towards the brand representing femvertising in a way that females have a more positive attitude towards the brand. For Intimissmi, no such result was found, and gender did not predict the attitude towards the stereotypical brand. For both brands, perceived sexiness did not indicate a positive or negative attitude towards the brand. Conclusions drawn from these results are that since females are the leading target group for lingerie, brands operating in Germany should beware of the trend of femvertising and could be threatened by more empowering brands in the future. Furthermore, the choice of advertisements is pivotal for the final attitude towards a brand since a negative evaluation of an ad can result in an overall negative attitude towards the represented brand. According to the results presented within the study, the former marketing trend of Sex Sells, which portrayed mainly sexually objectified women fitting into society's beauty standards, has no decisive influence on female or male consumers' attitudes towards the brands. This study adds to the literature on consumers' attitudes towards femvertising and the stereotypical portrayal of females and covers the niche of the German lingerie market.

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Dr. Elisabeth Timmermans
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Mona Madusiok. (2022, June 27). Femvertising vs. stereotypical portrayal in the lingerie industry Exploring consumers' attitudes towards lingerie brands in Germany. Media & Business. Retrieved from