Online shopping in Africa is still in its infancy, and convincing customers to let go of their hard-earned cash online can be a challenge. South African fashion retailer Subwear quickly realized that success requires unique messaging and an omnichannel approach that aligns online and offline experiences.

Subwear began delivering its high-end curated fashion to the Johannesburg area in 1997. Since then, it’s been bringing luxury brands and denim looks to fashion-forward shoppers via its website and a handful of physical stores.

Social media has been a key tactic for the brand, and the place where Subwear’s followers eagerly anticipate new curated looks. But with their focus shifting to gaining more visitors, Subwear knew that it needed to change the game and find a way to connect with new audiences.

Finding a competitive advantage

By researching marketing strategies and seeing what other brands were using in their marketing mix, Subwear connected with Criteo.

Naeem Vallee, Director at Subwear explained, “We felt limited by only using social media for brand awareness as we knew that we were playing in the same field as all our competitors… we needed to find a way to change the game. That’s when we saw what Criteo could offer us and give us a competitive advantage… the ability to connect with audiences that haven’t discovered us as yet but would love our products.”

With Criteo’s web conversion + similar audiences solution, Subwear introduced its brand to new shoppers with characteristics and behaviors similar to their best website visitors. The Criteo Shopper Graph, the world’s largest shopper data set, provided ample opportunities for Subwear to expand its reach to new and interested audiences.

At the same time, personalized ads were built and optimized to deliver maximum engagement and conversions. Creative flexibility allowed Subwear to adjust coupons as needed to mirror online and offline promotions.

“New user acquisition has been great for us,” says Vallee. “The ability to control the scheduling of coupon ads has given me the flexibility I need to align ads to what we’re really experiencing in-store and online.”

With this campaign as part of their mix, Subwear has seen triple digit growth YoY in sales and site visitors in the last year.

Making it worth the visit

To further deepen its roots in the African market, Subwear is focused on continuing to build a seamless omnichannel experience.

According to Vallee, “Customers want to know that you’re legit and also get an opportunity to feel the products before making a purchase. We recently had a customer who drove over 400km to make an in-store purchase after seeing our products online. That was pretty special.”

Subwear makes trips like this worth it, promising service excellence from a team that lives and breathes the Subwear lifestyle. The experience is the same online, with a dedicated support team with in-depth product knowledge ready to answer any questions.

Criteo campaigns will continue to play a part in their omnichannel strategy. “As we continue to grow and further entrench Subwear in the African market, we really see Criteo as a key partner to support us on this journey.”

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ROAS for lower-funnel campaigns with Criteo’s adaptive optimization


Higher CTR for visitors reached through Criteo’s similar audience solution


Direct ROAS for converting new visitors into customers


Higher net browsing activity for visitors reached with similar audience solution and who also received retargeting


Higher net browsing activity from visitors reached via similar audience solution, compared to overall website