A Tauranga milkman is making a name for himself in the male underwear market.
The Milkman, in this case, is a brand of underpants that started out as a gift of purchase for customers of the Tauranga-based maternity lingerie brand Hot Milk but quickly developed a fan base of its own.
Hot Milk customers started contacting the company saying Milkman underpants were the best undies their husbands had ever worn and they wanted more.
The company was only too happy to oblige its enthusiastic customers and Milkman was established as a separate brand about 18 months ago under the management of Roly Ebbing, husband of Hot Milk director Lisa Ebbing.
Since then the Milkman brand has established its own character, targeting male and female buyers with a marketing mix of hard-case humour and sexy male models.
The marketing targeted men in the 25 to 35 age range but acknowledged that females were important customers too, Mr Ebbing said. "There's a funny window with men's undies where until the age of 18 your mum buys them, and sometimes that goes on till 22 or 23, and then there's this gap where you're your own man, you're in charge of your own destiny and no one's looking after you anymore so you start going and buying your own underpants and taking a bit of pride in it, and then you hit the age of 35, you're married and you're getting them for Father's Day, it falls back into the women's camp and that's pretty much you until your done."
Production-wise, men's underpants were a lot easier to make than maternity bras, Mr Ebbing said, so the biggest challenge was establishing a point of difference in an already saturated market.
Milkman has chosen a similar path to the Tui beer advertisements - using blokey humour to create a brand identity.
With slogans such as "Delivering daily where it matters most" and "Honest, hard-working and not bad with the ladies", Milkman has developed a loyal and growing customer base, Mr Ebbing said.
"It's quirky, it's tongue in cheek, it's blokey, it's having a bit of fun and creating a bit of personality."
While the brand's name was originally a spin-off from the mother brand Hot Milk, associations with milk men were particularly useful when targeting dairy farmers, Mr Ebbing said.
Milkman's biggest distributor is the rural supply stores Farmlands and CRT which merged earlier this year and Milkman products are featured throughout the network.
The brand has also been taken on by classy department stores such as Smith and Caughey's in Auckland, Kirkcaldie and Stains in Wellington, and Ballantynes in Christchurch, as well as a number of independent underwear boutiques around New Zealand and Australia.