How it felt being a brand promoter for men's undies for a day
When I said i wanted more opportunities, that might be outside of my comfort zone, I did not mean promoting a men’s underwear products in one of the most popular department store in Singapore, but when it did come in my way, I did not dodge it.
Bundies is a Singaporean start-up underwear subscription company. They steer clear from the stereotypically sexy and manly branding of men’s underwear, but instead, Bundies is like a friendly and chill. Their products are sustainable and focused on giving fit and comfort.
I had a chance to talk to the founders, Wouter Muis and Benk VIsscher earlier in 2018 when I had applied for an internship position. Their business idea was new and exciting and the have long background in fashion and marketing, which made them interesting for a fashion marketing student like me to learn from. I did not get the internship position (I went to Benjamin Barker instead) However, there was another chance to be in touch with Bundies again by being a brand promoter in Takashimaya, so I signed up.
Those of us who volunteered as brand promoters had a one-on-one brand introduction and small interview with Bundies, and then we had a training session by Takashimaya so we could familiarise ourselves with the process of going in and out and doing payment , etc as well as the physical requirements for Takashimaya’s brand promoter. They were particular about how they want the promoters to present themselves, which was something I had never encountered in any other volunteering roles I had, but it made sense and wasn’t too demanding.
By Bundies themselves, we were taught about the stocks, on-going promotion, and Bundies brand and USP.
Admittedly, I did not have much experience in the front end of fashion retail and I had never been very good at being “warm" or persuasive to strangers, so I approached the position with a not-so-tiny dread of not being able to sell anything. Thankfully, on the day of my shift, Wouter, one of founders, was there so he gave me examples of how he approach and serve people. I took note that he liked to ask people to touch the actual product.
He left after lunch and then the hours seemed to stretch.
Takashimaya’s usual customers are older than the malls/ place I hangout in. The other promoters surrounding Bundies were also older. I felt a little bit alienated and could not relate so much with the surrounding. I was not sure how older people liked to be approached- whether I was too casual, too forthcoming, but it turns out, a lot of the people just did not want to be approached at all. They would wave away my greeting and invitation to check out Bundies’ promotion, but they would be amused and interested in Bundies’ campaign picture, which was sizable on the back of the booth display.
I had been standing around an interacting with people for when I volunteered for Singapore Design Week and for Climate Action Carnival, but I realized it was very different to approach people in a selling floor than in events.
In an event, it is almost guaranteed, traffic would come, and those people are interested in what you have to say when it’s clear you are a part of the event organizer. In the selling floor of the department store, without the sale or in store event, traffic is not guaranteed to come, and sometimes people already know what the want to get, having no time for me- a distraction.
Other booth promoters were chatting partners at times, but we were all trying to get the attention of the same couple of people walking down the aisle, again, and again, until the end of the day.
My dread of not selling anything doubled in size when it was 6 pm and I still hadn’t sold anything. My back was aching because there was no place to sit unless I stayed in the toilet. My lips were chapped and I was wondering what my friends were snapping on Instagram, but I pushed through, and by 9 pm, I sold 6 pieces. GLAD I DID SELL SOMETHING.
The number was not fantastic but it really wasn’t easy to sell underwear from a new brand in a place that sells Calvin Klein and half a dozen more recognizable brands.
The training and the knowledge of being a brand promoter was valuable to me. I also had a newfound respect for brand promoters. I think they are tough. Standing there all day, trying to reach a sale target, and always being friendly to strangers? Not easy.