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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Feb 10, 2024
)

Victoria’s Secret Marketing Strategies and A Look At The 2024 Performative Rebrand

The lingerie industry has witnessed a notable transformation in recent years, largely driven by shifting perceptions of beauty and body positivity. Consumers want more diverse beauty standards than tall, thin models. To stay competitive, lingerie brand Victoria's Secret updated its marketing strategy. 

Roy Raymond established Victoria's Secret in San Francisco in 1977. Since then, the company has grown internationally, with over a thousand stores in the US and a solid foundation in markets throughout Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. In 2021, the value of women's underwear and nightgowns was approximately $74.5 billion, with the company having a market share revenue of ~$7 billion. As the leading lingerie retailer in the US, Victoria's Secret has influenced the market with its creative marketing campaigns targeting a variety of demographics. Victoria's Secret is able to successfully market its wares to affluent young professionals and style-conscious individuals by using segmentation, targeting, and positioning strategies.

Photo by Nabo Ghosh on Unsplash

Growth Strategy 

Victoria's Secret & Co. announced its strategic growth plan. The company wants to make the most of its Victoria's Secret and PINK brands and strengthen its position as the world's biggest store for intimate clothing.  Three important goals for the company are to strengthen the core, boost growth, and change the foundation. Brands like Aerie and Adore Me have taken the lead in this movement, embracing diversity in their marketing campaigns. So  Victoria's Secret’s acquisition of the Adore Me brand provided synergistic opportunities that fueled strong international growth. 

Victoria's Secret & Co. is focusing on a few key areas as part of its growth strategy to help the company grow and get customers more involved. First, the company wants to refresh its brand identity and better serve its main customers. Second, it wants to expand its product line and category so that it can meet the needs of all women's fashion tastes. Additionally, the business wants to boost its brand recognition and cultural importance by focusing on product-driven entertainment.  In addition to these initiatives, Victoria's Secret wants to expand its global footprint with multi-year plans to enhance sales and profitability in existing international markets. The acquisition of the Adore Me brand is expected to drive growth further, given its tech-enabled capabilities and synergies with Victoria's Secret and PINK. The company's third-quarter financial outlook shows signs of improvement, with sales trends exceeding expectations.

4Ps of Victoria’s Secret

A. Product

Victoria's Secret sells more than just lingerie. The brand is known for having a huge selection of bras, from basic ones that you wear every day to fancy ones that make a statement. The brand is renowned for its extensive range of bras, encompassing everything from everyday essentials to luxurious pieces. Complementing its bras, Victoria’s Secret offers an extensive collection of panties, ranging from thongs and bikinis to hipsters and boyshorts. The sleepwear collection exudes elegance and sophistication, with luxurious robes, silky nightgowns, and cozy pyjama sets designed for relaxation and indulgence. Recognizing the growing demand for stylish and functional activewear, Victoria’s Secret offers a range of athletic apparel designed to inspire confidence and performance. The fragrances are renowned for their alluring scents and exquisite packaging, while the beauty products, including body lotions, body mists, and makeup, provide a luxurious sensory experience.

Photo by Scarlett Alt on Unsplash

B. Price

Victoria’s Secret positions itself as a premium lingerie brand, offering high-quality products at price points that reflect the brand’s commitment to luxury and exclusivity. While the prices may be higher compared to some competitors, customers are willing to invest in Victoria’s Secret products for their superior quality, meticulous craftsmanship, and iconic branding.

C. Promotion

In order to reach its target audience and spread its brand message, Victoria's Secret uses a variety of marketing channels. The brand invests in high-profile advertising campaigns featuring its iconic angels and models, showcased across multiple platforms. Active engagement on social media platforms fosters a sense of community and connection with its followers. Strong email marketing keeps customers informed and engaged with the brand, while in-store events create unique shopping experiences, driving foot traffic and generating excitement.

D. Place

Victoria’s Secret strategically selects store locations to maximize visibility and accessibility for its target audience. Physical retail stores are established in high-traffic shopping malls, upscale retail districts, and prime urban areas, providing customers with a tactile shopping experience. Additionally, the brand has a strong online presence through its e-commerce platform, offering a seamless shopping experience and expanding its reach and accessibility.

Victoria's Secret Rebranding Efforts

For a long time, the company's marketing strategy was based on the male gaze, which made women seem like objects and sexualized them instead of giving them power. However, as societal norms evolved, particularly with the rise of movements promoting body positivity, inclusivity, and diversity, Victoria's Secret found itself out of step with the values of younger consumers. In response to mounting criticism and declining sales, Victoria's Secret initiated a rebranding effort aimed at portraying itself as more feminist and inclusive. This involved featuring a diverse lineup of models, including individuals from various ethnicities, body types, and backgrounds, in its marketing campaigns and fashion shows.

Source: Victoria's Secret

This transition has posed challenges as the brand seeks to appeal to a wider audience while maintaining its core brand identity. In light of Victoria's Secret revitalization efforts, the company's "Icons" campaign featured a mix of familiar supermodels from its past, such as Gisele Bündchen and Adriana Lima, alongside newer faces like Hailey Bieber and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser. This blend of old and new aims to remind audiences of Victoria's Secret's former glory while adapting to modern values of inclusivity. Victoria's Secret's attempts to modernize their image, featuring models like Megan Rapinoe and Eileen Gu in campaigns, have faced challenges due to perceptions of the brand as exclusive and outdated. While Victoria's Secret's latest campaign features models of diversity, consumers question the authenticity of these efforts. Victoria's Secret doubled down on its female empowerment messaging with the launch of another campaign called "Undefinable," featuring celebrities like Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, and rising country singer Brittany Spencer. The campaign, aimed at revamping the brand's image, was showcased through immersive experiences at its flagship store in Manhattan and across major cities, as well as on social media platforms. 

Love Cloud Collection

Source: Victoria's Secret

Victoria's Secret's Love Cloud Collection emphasizes inclusivity and diversity. The campaign stars Sofia Jirau, Miriam Blanco, Victoria Sampaio, Cello Miles, and Sylvia Buckler from underrepresented groups. With Victoria's Secret’s redefined brand image towards a more inclusive world of sexiness, this campaign sets a new standard for the company. It created a welcoming atmosphere for the products that are offered, as well as the advertising that featured images that support inclusivity.

While Victoria's Secret's efforts are commendable, they can be improved. 

Critics say using multiple models from underrepresented communities in a campaign can seem forced. Authenticity is crucial in inclusive marketing. Consumers value authenticity and can differentiate between genuine and fake representations. Instead of just checking a box, brands should authentically integrate diversity and inclusion into all aspects of their marketing. Brands can make all of their customers feel like they belong by consistently showing people from different backgrounds in meaningful ways. Sarah Sylvester, the executive VP of marketing at Victoria's Secret since 2005, acknowledges the mixed reactions to the brand's transformation. She emphasizes the commitment to listening to customers and evolving accordingly to better serve all women.

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

The return of Victoria's Secret's fashion show, set to air on Amazon Prime, is seen as a crucial test for the brand's revitalization efforts. One notable change is the transition from the traditional fashion show to a feature-length documentary. Although this move received mixed reviews, it generated significant media attention for the brand, indicating a willingness to innovate and adapt to changing consumer preferences. The show, featuring headline act Doja Cat, is positioned as a celebration of women's empowerment on a global scale. Success in these endeavours could help Victoria's Secret establish a deeper emotional connection with consumers. However, the company faces stiff competition from newer brands like Savage x Fenty and Neiwai, which have embraced inclusivity and body diversity from their inception. These brands have resonated with consumers by offering products and marketing campaigns that prioritize making customers feel good rather than simply looking good.

What Marketers Can Learn

Victoria's Secret's rebranding story can teach marketers a lot about how to be authentic and include everyone in a meaningful way. Although the lingerie store was a fashion icon, its sales were falling, and it was being criticized for not being diverse or welcoming. 

1. Authenticity Is Key:

One of the major missteps of Victoria's Secret's rebranding was the perceived lack of authenticity. The shift in messaging towards inclusivity and female empowerment felt disconnected from the brand's history and core identity. Instead of merely caving to trends or public pressure, marketers should make sure that any rebranding initiatives are based on true values and supported by practical actions.

2. Consider Timing:

Victoria's Secret's rebranding came at a time when societal attitudes towards diversity and inclusion were rapidly evolving. However, the timing of the rebranding seemed reactionary rather than proactive, leading to a sense of dissonance with the brand's existing audience. Marketers should carefully assess cultural shifts and evolve their brand narratives gradually to avoid alienating loyal customers.

3. Don't Neglect Core Customers:

In its pursuit of a more inclusive image, Victoria's Secret risked alienating its core customer base, which was drawn to its traditional aesthetic. The drastic departure from its established brand identity left many longtime customers feeling disconnected and overlooked. Marketers should prioritize listening to both existing and potential customers, striking a balance between adaptation and loyalty to the brand's heritage. 

Challenges Victoria's Secret Faced

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Even with these rebranding efforts, it was hard to win over Gen Z and stop its sales from going down. People started to doubt the brand's sincerity when it suddenly changed its message. They wondered if the rebrand was just a cheap attempt to cash in on new trends, rather than a real commitment to empowering and including everyone. Some individuals appreciate the move towards inclusivity, especially in featuring models with bodies that are more representative of the everyday woman. However, many express skepticism and criticism towards the brand's motivations, timing, and execution. Several comments highlight that the shift towards inclusivity feels insincere and driven by desperation to capitalize rather than genuine care for diverse body types. Others express disappointment in the brand's abandonment of its iconic, glamorous image in favour of a more basic and bland aesthetic. Many also criticize the quality of Victoria's Secret products, noting that the decline in quality has been a significant issue for years. 

To wrap up, Gen Z consumers, known for their discerning and socially conscious attitudes, were unimpressed by what they perceived as performative gestures from Victoria's Secret. While some agreed that diversity and inclusion in advertising were important, others said they missed the brand's classic look and thought Victoria's Secret had moved too far away from its roots. Even though there were some negative opinions, most people agreed that the rebranding was long overdue and that Victoria's Secret needed to change in this day and age where diversity and authenticity are becoming more important.  Email marketing, clearance sales, and campaigns for acceptance like "Love Cloud" have all helped the business succeed by bringing in new customers and changing how people see it. Victoria's Secret has grown its following and engagement on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube while using SEO strategies. Additionally, influencer marketing and e-commerce strategies have played pivotal roles in driving sales and enhancing brand recognition. Despite its market dominance, the brand's reluctance to embrace inclusivity earlier on hindered its long-term success.

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