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Victoria’s Secret – A Sexy Positioning Is No Longer Sexy

One fact was always clear – Victoria’s Secrets bras were sexy and alluring. They sold well and were boosted by not-so-subtle advertising and promotions. But that was then, and this is now. The glamorous look is no longer a look desired by growing numbers of America women.

In an exhaustive study by Daphne Howland for Retail Dive, we learn that that the brand’s soul – its core positioning was all about being sexy and glamorous. Les Wexner, chairman of L Brands, added a catalogue to get the product out there and set up a ‘buy one get one free’ promotional program to boost acceptance of the product and make it attainable.

But times have changed. Today, consumer attitudes and behavior increasingly focus on comfort and healthy lifestyles. Add the #MeToo movement and female empowerment; it all combines to change attitudes toward Victoria’s Secret’s sexiness. At a time when Miss America has dropped its swimsuit competition, since it is viewed negatively these days to have a Pageant, and talking up that change by hashtagging ‘#byebyebikini,’ it may also affect how consumers feel about those Victoria Secret’s models known as angels with wings.

L Brands operates three separate divisions which include Victoria Secret, Bath Body Works, and Bath Body Works International and other which includes sourcing operation Mast Global etc. It sells its merchandise through company owned stores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and greater China. Many of the stores are in shopping malls. It also sells its merchandise through 650 partner-operated stores, Some of the brands are Victoria’s Secret, Pink, and Bath Body Works. Mast Global is a merchandising sourcing and production company. It is the successor of The Limited which was founded by Leslie Wexner’s mother Bella in 1963.

The company has now made a multi-year plan to grow the business in North America, and one wonders what that growth will be. After all, sales have been pretty flat for the past few years and earnings have also declined recently. It’s not a rosy picture:

Any new plan must evolve the Victoria’s Secret brand positioning. The legacy of sexy and alluring is not a winning strategy these days. With more consumer focus on comfort, athleisure and conservative looks, management ne to refresh the look and marketing messages. I would like to see them apply the same design skills that made push-up bras and skimpy lingerie fit to create updated styles they can claim fit well and let women live active lives with confidence and comfort.