Hey, everyone, this incident and welcome to a brand new episode of Let's Do Shots, let's talk about Victoria's Secret today, a brand so wildly successful that even though it continues to have the highest market share in the US today, it is being touted a failing brand and a brand struggling to keep up with the changing world around them.
From a brand loved by everyone to a brand caught in the middle of controversy. A lot has changed for Victoria's Secret in the last few years.
A big reason for this are two men, Lex Wexner, the owner of the brand and the chief marketing officer. So let's do shots.
Victoria's Secret rose to Ensign prominence in the 90s. In 1995, they launched their iconic Victoria's Secret fashion show, which aimed to create a desirable fantasy that women could aspire to be in 1999. The fashion show was telecast online for the first time, and the website crashed as it could not handle the high amount of traffic that came to watch the show in the early 2000s. The brand hired the biggest supermodels, in fact, the dawn models into supermodels that the biggest movie directors making ads for them and their fashion show was the biggest fashion event of the year in the last few years.
However, things began to change. How people perceive beauty changed and continues to change, thankfully, if I may add.
But even in all this, the one thing that did not change was Victoria's Secret, and that is the biggest reason for their fun. Victoria's Secret is notorious for promoting unattainable standards of beauty. The women who walk the Victoria's Secret runway are not a reflection of the women who actually buy the product. All of the brand's marketing revolves around an overtly sexual imagery depicting women in lingerie with names like the Fantasy Bra. Women simply don't find this communication relevant anymore.
Women have made a shift towards comfort and convenience in purchasing lingerie. There has even been a big shift towards athleisure and comfort while other brands are catering to this need. Victoria's Secret has been super slow to make the shift beyond product need. Women want to see women like themselves in ads for launch if they want to see how their bodies will look like the product being sold to them. Not some 70 year old man's perception of what a woman's body should be like, nor 70 isn't just a random objective.
Razaq, the chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret until last year, is 72 years old. The owner of Victoria's Secret expects now is 82 years old. Between the two of them, they handle literally everything to do with the brand.
They had a giant resistance to change because the sexual undertone of the brand worked for them in the past for almost 40 years. For them, this was a tried and tested formula, which they were not going to change. This was literally two men in their 70s making decisions for a lingerie brand that 20 and 30 year olds were. It's no wonder that the brand has come under criticism for not being inclusive of body types and sexual identities. Addressed in an interview claimed that he would not hire trans and plus size models because they did not exemplify the fantasy that Victoria's Secret was trying to sell.
This comment was the reason he eventually resigned from his position last year. Victoria's Secret try to course correct and hired model Barbara back. The irony is that she's not even a plus size model. She's just not the stereotype that Victoria's Secret is well known to cast. When she was hired, the brand actually gained positive press. That is how deep that issue was.
Over the last few years, the viewership of their once iconic fashion show that Victoria's Secret Angels modeling to life performances by the biggest musical artists has fallen by half in 2019. The show was finally canceled. The brand is now trying to make amends by hiring models of all body types, promoting body positivity and by hiring models of all sexual identities as well. But all the misplaced communication is just one of their problems. The brand also has business related issues to deal with.
Victoria's Secret has simply not kept up with the decline of culture and the exclusion of online shopping around the world. The brand was based in a brick and mortar model, creating a store environment which made people want to buy their laundry. They invested money in the best real estate, in the best locations, in the best malls. All of this suddenly lost relevance that more and more people are shifting to buy laundry online.
In India itself, top laundry retailers like Swami Clavier and Secrets have e-commerce to thank for their growth. While other brands are offering virtual measuring tips and triumphs, making it convenient to buy laundry online, Victoria's Secret was still figuring out the basics of shifting to an online model while other brands are championing women with varying body types who logically sell their products. Victoria's Secret kept promoting their archaic standards of beauty and unattainable body types. While women were opting for comfortable lingerie, Victoria's Secret was still peddling a fantasy of women only wearing bush bras and celebrating only one dimension of beauty.
It's no secret why the brand is struggling, and it's no secret what they need to do to change.