How Nippies is Fashioning a Leading Position in a Crowded Market
They strive to help customers feel self-assured while dressing up. Now the owners behind a popular nipple cover brand are attempting to lock down brand-name recognition.
January 20, 2023 Kay Keough
The end of quarantine was like a jailbreak from a two-year, at-home sentence. It also marked the moment when many women decided they wanted more than just the freedom to go out. They’d no longer be held prisoner by bras that limit their wardrobe options, and they’d definitely not be confined to the questionable coverage that some substitutes shackled them with.
Escape came partly from nipple covers, a more incognito form of support and a solution to the infamous “nip slip.”
Thrasio acquired category leader B-Six™ in April 2021 when the brand, market, and temperatures were all heating up. The maker of high-end Nippies™ products – including nipple covers, breast and fashion tape, and other fashion fixes – is a multichannel company with a strong retail presence. The only charges it pleads guilty to are helping women be the best possible version of themselves, by expressing themselves and wearing what they want.
And apparently, a lot of women want Nippies: During July’s Prime Day event, the brand had its biggest day ever on Amazon – with a nearly 150% YOY sales boost.
Recent B-Six leaders – all women, who took over from all-women founders – have been wielding their unique skill sets to achieve and build on this success. They aim to spread brand awareness and establish a highly marketable identity in a crowded space, all while selling at a premium price point. The end goal: to build an instantly recognizable brand name – Nippies – that customers use as a kind of shorthand for the category leader, like Coke® or Chapstick®.
Dialing into the 411 on the origins of B-Six
Here’s some fun with words and math for you:
- In British slang, “bristols” means breasts.
- Collectively, the three founders of our featured brand have six breasts.
- They added these two together and got Bristols Six, before shortening the name of their new company to B-Six. (The brand is more commonly known now as Nippies – more on that later.)
In 2022 and beyond, a new female trio has been seeing the founders’ vision through: General Manager Jess Crowley and Brand Managers Abby Cook and MaryAnne Fissell. They pride themselves on carrying the mantle of a women-run business.
“Many intimate apparel brands are actually run by men,” says Cook. “I think it’s really nice that women are the force behind making these products with women’s bodies in mind.”
While men can certainly research what women want and need in this category, there’s no substitute for being able to try on products to decide which are best for customers and to bring your own, unique POV to the table. But identifying that perfect customer fit goes beyond just fit.
“Nippies is a brand that focuses on empowering women and providing them with solutions that inspire confidence in all of life’s moments,” explains Fissell. An essential part of the equation is producing superior products for all women – regardless of shape, size, or background.
All men are created equal – boobs are not
Designed to be nearly undetectable, Nippies are thin, matte-finished, and made with high-quality material and medical-grade adhesive suitable for sensitive skin. But in the brand’s early days, when it got a lift from big influencers, the product line and market it was sold to were decidedly smaller.
“A lot of the old presence that the brand had was very ‘modelesque party girl,’ very fun and flirty, which got [the founders] to where they wanted to be,” says Cook. “We wanted to not only widen the market, but also make it a brand that everyone can wear and love.”
Inclusivity is a key focus for B-Six as it expands its product line. It has introduced nipple cover variations including extra coverage, which are slightly thicker in the middle for women with dark or perky nipples, and lifts, with a pull tab for a gravity boost. The brand also recently added color variations for darker skin tones, hazelnut and espresso, which to date haven’t been available in the market. The range of five colors has won praise from customers. Further improvements in the works include more diversity in brand photography and imagery, as well as on Instagram.
For Crowley, the team’s diversity – its various ages, backgrounds, and skill sets – has been a top driver of the brand’s evolution: “We celebrate our differences and challenge each other to raise the standard in high-quality products for our customers,” she notes.
Busting through to the top of the category
Raising that standard requires a lot of dedication. And in a landscape littered with cheaper alternatives, Nippies – which sells on the higher end of the market – requires the best efforts from a range of teams. Those efforts have paid off in droves, with the brand consistently holding the Best Seller Badge.
The team also has been scaling the heights to household-name status by not only pushing into more retail channels (Victoria’s Secret online and Anthropologie stores’ international markets, which join big names like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom), but also taking action across the board. They’ve driven awareness and equity through branding and DTC enhancements, seizing more external traffic via paid social ads, and boosting sales with PPC.
Nipping the brand’s name and feel in the bud
Though it has a fun backstory, the B-Six name just isn’t as catchy as Nippies. The original owners had two Instagram accounts, one reflecting the brand’s name and the other the name of the products, but the latter has gained far more followers. Increasingly, customers are using the Nippies name and associating it with the best nipple cover on the market.
Recently, the home page of the Nippies DTC site also underwent a makeover to elevate the Nippies visual aesthetic and capture powerful feminine energy and scroll-stopping editorial design. “It’s about showcasing Nippies as the ‘must-have’ product in a women’s fashion toolbox,” explains Graphic Designer Emma Clark. “A product that she’d be wearing while walking down the shiny tiles of Hollywood Boulevard or the shiny tiles of Target aisles.”
In addition to pairing dramatic and bold typography, Clark incorporated design elements that complement soft, feminine arches with sharp corners. The homepage now also spotlights customer reviews. Since the revamp, exit rate and bounce rate have both decreased by 10%, and transactions have improved.
No need to pad the numbers: ads’ reach speaks for itself
Thrasio’s Creative and Marketing teams identified a key post-acquisition growth opportunity with lots of promise: paid social ads. They generated content for both the DTC site and Amazon listings to drive purchases and awareness. Three top-performing ads combined to generate hundreds of purchases, and paid social now comprises 28% of DTC sales for Nippies.
Also accelerating awareness and sales of Nippies are Sponsored Brands Headlines, which appear consistently for high-volume search terms. 85% of headline sales this year have been from new-to-brand customers. The headlines have also generated above-average ROI – relatively unheard of for this ad type – and the revenue they’ve brought in has grown 228% year over year.
PPC spend pushes up sales numbers
Because 2022 is only the first full year of Thrasio’s ownership of Nippies, the Marketing team also had to overcome knowledge gaps around PPC. They conducted an audit of PPC performance and coverage to date across all child ASINs, allowing them to realign efficiency targets and build out coverage in order to maximize revenue and contribution profit based on gross margin. With the audit results, they made adjustments to ACOS targets to funnel traffic through their top-performing ASIN – adhesive creme – and pushed for more Sponsored Brand Video (SBV) coverage to own a larger share of SERP (search engine results pages), leverage its ability to help separate Nippies from competitors, and improve order velocity across key terms.
These strategic enhancements ensured that, by using AI and automation, the team could see search trends and track demand shift signals on a daily basis, allowing them to respond to sudden changes through real-time bid and budget adjustments. All of this work has helped feed a 136% year-over-year increase in PPC revenue (through Aug. 9) at a more efficient ACOS, resulting in a 153% rise in PPC contribution profit year over year.
While already a pretty arresting brand before Thrasio acquired it, Nippies is on its way to breaking out into most-wanted status across all channels, and new product releases are planned for spring and summer 2023. The fabric holding this success story together is teamwork and conviction that, with time, it’ll be considered criminal for women to not have Nippies in their homes.
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