What is the Secret to Victoria’s Success?

Discussion
Dec 01, 2011
George Anderson

Victoria’s Secret has it. What that is, we’re not completely sure, but we saw evidence of the brand’s appeal Tuesday evening as the resident college-age female watched the broadcast of the lingerie retailer’s annual fashion show while video chatting with friends. Yes, there were musical acts that appealed, but we saw and heard actual discussions regarding the fashions modeled on the catwalk that evening.

According to a Los Angeles Times report citing Show Tracker, 10.3 million viewers tuned into this year’s broadcast, up 15 percent over last year. The number of viewers in the "me like, me want, me buy" 18-49 demographic was up 35 percent this year versus last.

With over 1,000 stores and a robust presence through its printed catalogs and website, Victoria’s Secret popularity helped propel the net income of parent company Limited Brands up 22 percent for the company’s third quarter.

Discussion Questions: What makes Victoria’s Secret successful? Are there any elements of the Victoria’s Secret model that are transferable to other retailers?

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12 Comments on "What is the Secret to Victoria’s Success?"


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Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

It’s no secret (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Great selection across a wide range of ages, great service (fitters are usually available, knowledgeable sales staff), and great price/value (while on the higher priced end, products last). That’s what appeals to my wife. To me, what guy can resist a Victoria Secret ad/catalog/video? All of the above, for women, are transferable.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Rarely do we see a brand hitting on all cylinders. VS is that. A case study in great hiring, design, execution, product, allure. I’ve heard it extends all the way to the dressing rooms as well.

The other thing I like is that if a salesperson is with someone, they stay with them, line be damned. Very smart to make that customer feel, at that moment, they are the most important one in the world.

That’s incredibly hard to duplicate in ten stores much less 1000. Kudos all around.

David Slavick
Guest
David Slavick
9 years 5 months ago
It’s all about style and fantasy. The team in Columbus is brilliant in their ability to keep the product fresh with new bra designs while at the same time gaining free media coverage that no one can come close to touching. They payoff the experience with must-see window displays, a warm in-store environment and an associate staff that personifies the brand. Premium prices for sexy as well as essential foundation garments. Pushing to the edge what to wear for yourself or for that special someone, but not going over that edge too far — leave that for a few competitors or corner shops. What is the secret sauce? Be consistent with how you present the brand. Keep it fresh (in this case new models are discovered and adored) to maintain interest and buzz. VS had fans before Facebook was cool. Push the envelope with your product so your store/channel is always “on the list” of where to shop — for self or as a gift. Commit to not only traditional advertising, but strong public relations… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

The brand is King… or “Queen.” VS does a great job with building the culture of sexy attractiveness. However, the product also delivers. My wife shops online for great values on products not available in stores, including dresses, etc., and looks forward to their promotional emails.

Apple delivers a brand culture that is reflected in their products. So, yes, this is completely transferable.

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

The VS brand has had a clear identity for many years: Young, sexy, fun, fashionable, colorful. It has done a great job marketing the brand and extending it to the Pink sub-brand in order to capture a younger customer. Let’s face it: The target customer for Victoria’s Secret may buy plenty of merchandise elsewhere but is committed to buying her intimate apparel only at VS.

Lesson learned for other retailers? Maintain a laser-like focus on brand clarity and product development to build an emotional connection to your target consumer.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

It’s a combination of savvy branding, innovative design, tight operational execution, good site selection and a tiered pricing strategy — Pink to the diamond bra.

But, more than that, VS is a machine at retail. Those headsetted retail clerks are always working on very aggressive segment goals as is the store as a whole.

The product may be fantasy, but it’s a series of pragmatic realities that feed the beast.

Hayes Minor
Guest
Hayes Minor
9 years 5 months ago

While, yes, the brand appeals to both genders (directly or indirectly) I think what truly drives the “secret” to their success is that VS never takes its eye off the prize — the next generation. While I don’t personally agree that marketing lingerie to young girls is appropriate, it’s smart marketing nonetheless. These are the future shoppers of the brand and to ignore them at a young age would not be prudent. By tiering their communications both in-store and in print with offerings that are arguably age-appropriate, VS remembers that the point-of-market-entry cannot be ignored. Attract. Interact. Convert shoppers for life.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
9 years 5 months ago

I have had chance to read others’ comments while forming my own response. During the process, the image of Playboy popped into mind. Both VS and Playboy have developed brands directed at marketing sexuality. But VS, unlike Playboy, has seemed to be able to maintain its high profile. Playboy has seen a lot of ups and downs that can be traced directly to loss of its “ground game.” While VS has focused on customer intimacy and kept its focus, Playboy tried branching out into all kinds of products and services that squandered the profits from its core business.

Kudos go to a retailer who understands their role and are happy being the very best at fulfilling it. That is what others can learn. The fashion show is a bonus.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Victoria knows and understands its customers well. With that understanding the apparel, presentation, customer experience, the music, the salespeople all work toward an integrated appeal to a specific demographic. With this knowledge, all the details related to these elements are all tailored to the target consumer.

Mike Blackburn
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I think the biggest thing driving their sales is that they tapped into a new demographic. Over the last decade or so, they expanded their base from young/middle aged woman to college girls, teens and even pre-teens. Girls seem to be demanding thongs and lingerie-style undergarments starting in junior high these days.

Michael Boze
Guest
Michael Boze
9 years 5 months ago

They understand their customer. They make great product. They communicate well with their audience. The fashion show shares the energy and beauty of the brand in a very compelling way.

I think other retailers would struggle with this approach because their business is less focused on a narrow segment of the market and lacks the means to deliver the business in a similar way.

Their fashion show is a version of what they have been doing for some time. In retail, there is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the Victoria Secret holiday fashion show. Both events are unique, both are compelling and both are deeply woven into the fabric of the retailers’ message.

Caitlin Kelly
Guest
Caitlin Kelly
9 years 5 months ago
Speaking as a female shopper, I like VS for one simple reason — if I want to buy a bra, they have staff trained to fit me properly. Very few stores seem to understand that shopping for lingerie, for many women, is a chore we avoid and (as some of you know) a vast majority of American women are wearing the wrong bra size as a result. Knowing I will be buying something that fits me properly (i.e. I won’t be wasting my valuable time or money) makes me more inclined to buy their products. Focus is also key. You go to a VS store to buy one thing; trying to decide among the many offerings of a department or discount store’s intimates department (and one without a trained fitter at all times) seems overwhelming in comparison. They also typically offer a wide range of sizes and have a lot of inventory — again, making shopping more likely a success (store sales) than a fruitless and frustrating waste of time (from the customer’s perspective.) All… Read more »
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