Victoria’s Secret Takes Sexy Back

The recent economic downturn has everyone in a frenzy.
Retailers are drastically cutting employee counts, diminishing the number of
new store openings and scaling back on merchandise. But, one retailer in
particular has been so scared by the downturn that it’s taking sexy back, regardless of what Justin Timberlake says.

Victoria’s
Secret–
long known for its scantily clad pencil-thin models and juicy
offerings–has a confession to make. It just might be too (gasp!) sexy.
Hmm…what was the first clue, the over-the-top, full of pink and glitter "What
is sexy?" marketing campaign, or the "Very Sexy" and "Sexy
Little Things
" lingerie lines?

No wait, I’m pretty sure it’s the itty
bitty sizes that every piece of clothing and lingerie comes in, regardless of
what’s printed on the label. For example, if you’re a size 8 normally, you’ll
have to buy a 12 or nothing at all, because they won’t have that size
available. Not that I’m bitter. I just don’t shop there anymore.

Apparently, execs at Victoria’s Secret are starting to
notice that the only ladies shopping at its stores these days are young college-age girls, who were introduced to the brand through the Pink line (reporting
$900 million in sales in 2007).

The Pink campaign, filled with blaring music in
stores and electric hot pink decor, has turned off more mature shoppers and left
the retailer with a less-sophisticated set of customers. And so now, Vicky is calling the whole thing off,
vowing to change her super-sexy ways.

CEO Sharen Jester Turney said recently in an analyst
conference call,
"We have so much gotten off our heritage. We will return
to an ultra-feminine lingerie brand to meet [customer] needs and
expectations."

The retailer is promising to raise the sophistication of its
lingerie offerings and will add sizes that fit mature women’s bodies as well
(it’s about time!).

Victoria’s
Secret isn’t saying when these changes will take place, but their Web site
already seems to reflect less of an emphasis on Gisele with wings pouting her
lips in a barely-there get-up, and instead features a more mature form of sexy–minus all the wings and glitter.

Well, I for one love it and can’t wait to see the retailer
shift into offering lingerie for all women, not just college-age gals. What
about you? Do you think Victoria’s
Secret is panicking for no reason or the change is a long time in coming? Leave
your comments here.

–Heather Strang

8 Comments

  1. Yes, I used to work there, and heard a lot of comments about how they don't supply for the "real" woman. I have to agree. Love the article.. keep it up!

  2. I think VS needs to start focusing on the quality of their goods… then maybe some of us might start shopping there.

    Personally, I'm "of college age" and I hate VS. Everything is over priced, low quality, and Gisele doesn't entice me to buying panties.

    I don't think they're panicking for no reason… but their strategies are all wrong. I don't feel they even gave into consideration the fact that a lot of people are holding on to their cash and not spending money on "sexy" $20 underwear, when they can buy a pair at – your favorite store – the 99 cent store! :)

  3. I think this is a great move and shows that "Vicky" is listening. In todays retail market or should I say ghost-town, it is crucial for brands to adapt or die a slow and public death. The Wall Street Journal day after day describes the atmosphere and whether it is Macy's joining the club of retailer's not disclosing monthly earnings or brands doing a 180 and heading down a new path I think it is good for the market. Times of recession like this are good for figurative fat trimming. I think that when we come out on the other side, retailers will have realized that the market will dictate what it wants and this put Limited Brands ahead of the curve.

    Bravo!

  4. I would agree with the comments. I do not really enjoy shopping there for several reasons…
    1. I always feel ripped off, even if I have a coupon. The prices seem to go up and the quality seems to go down.
    2. It reeks of the stinky perfume and lotions that they sell.
    3. A lot of the stuff looks cheap and trashy.
    4. They don't sell bras that fit my extra small bust any more!

    Good luck VS on working to appeal to the rest of the "average" women out there!

  5. I am 48 and have shopped at VS for years. I have been saying for the last 10 that they have forgotten their original customers and in fact it seemed that they thought their market was the boyfriend or husband and not the woman. My beautiful young daughters in their 20's don't shop there either. I am glad a woman is in charge now and I look forward to seeing it return to a womans store!

  6. I am also a college student and I love Victoria Secret. Ithink many of you are bitter. Their clothing may be pricey but it is still reasonable. You pay for what you buy. It is sexy, nice-fitting and fun. If you want plain and boring, enjoy your dollar store. I also think it is smart to start changeing for the average woman but I think PINK was the best marketing idea yet !

  7. I just want to tell all of you ladies that we are working on our image to be more of a house hold name. We are also bringing our feminine sophisticated look back, for it meets more of a target market in this tough situation that were all going through. We will be the next department store.