Tomorrow evening, London will be lit up like a pink, shiny jewel as it hosts Victoria’s Secret’s annual catwalk show for the first time in history. To mark the occasion, and to highlight the brand’s long-term success, Lingerie Insight asked leading retail and branding experts to answer the question, what, exactly, is Victoria’s Secret?
Tristan Rogers, CEO, Concrete
With clients include F&F, Marks & Spencer and Gap, Concrete offers expertise in improving retail profitability through improved enterprise collaboration processes
“Victoria’s Secret’s brand is cheeky, sexy, fun; qualities which make its buyers feel good about themselves. Key to its success has been a continual revision of what this feeling stands for. When the brand started, it took intimate fashion away from the practical underwear of the 70s into a world of playful colour and high-fashion. Victoria’s Secret has done a great job of transferring this feeling to different market cultures all around the world, whether it’s high-fashion glamour over here in the UK or slightly more luxe in Hong Kong. With a continued focus on international expansion, supported by its parent company, L Brands Inc, Victoria’s Secret has launched five stores in the UK since 2012, and opened its first four stores in the Middle East last year through a franchise agreement. The challenge facing the brand in this ambitious expansion, however, lies in adapting that elevated feeling and great customer experience to different cultures via franchise partners. Connecting up its business internally will help Victoria’s Secret to achieve this goal, as it will enable the company to adapt to unfamiliar markets and external pressures much more easily as it expands to UK and beyond.”
Christine Colbort, managing director, House Creative
House Creative is a Cheshire-based advertising agency offering advice in creative marketing strategies
“The high street is in trouble, and it’s no surprise with the success of the internet, which is where retail brands who can offer a compelling offering online, are really starting to gain market share over their competitors.But those stores that are thriving on the high street are doing so through investing in their brand. And they are doing this by achieving four things fundamental to making a brand successful. First, they are differentiating themselves from their competitors (even though they may have similar or even the same products for sale). Secondly they are talking their customer’s language through understanding exactly who their customers are and what makes them tick. Third, they ensure they communicate their brand values to their audience. Who they are, what they stand for and what they have to offer. Fourth, the most successful brands of all ‘own’ a territory. Victoria’s Secret does all of these things. In spades. Taking the fourth point, ‘owning a territory’ in this way is the absolute pinnacle, for any brand. And Victoria’s Secret unequivocally ‘owns’ sophisticated sex: lingerie used as a means of irresistible allure. The international brand fairly crackles with sexual electricity.Put simply, Victoria’s Secret convincingly lays claim to the ability to provoke one of the most powerful of human impulses. It’s a key differentiator and a very powerful one.
It’s a key message that takes the customer’s point of view and speaks the customer’s language, offering a very real and very tangible benefit. What’s more, no other brand can muscle in on its territory as it would merely be seen to be a follower, a pale imitation.The result is that Victoria’s Secret currently enjoys an unassailable status in owning a territory that brings with it an irresistible allure, a territory that almost every other brand would give its eye teeth to own. And therein lies Victoria’s true secret.”
Matthew Brown, director, Echochamber
Echochamber tracks global retail trends in order to help some of the world’s biggest retailers to innovate and futureproof their businesses
“Victoria’s Secret is one of the few aspirational lingerie brands out there that makes it feel like an event when you go inside their store. It’s not just about the product; there’s a whole sense of theatre and excitement and passion. They sort of turn up the volume on what they do. They’ve been widely copied in their merchandising and design strategy, but those brands who have copied Victoria’s Secret seem to have missed the excitement that goes with it – the huge theatrical displays, the whole back story of the Victoria’s Angels, and the digital screen that runs round the back of a staircase at its Bond Street store. They are a master class in design and visual merchandise, which reinforces the message that they are not just selling product – they own the world of beauty of lingerie. I think Victoria’s Secret is the most glamorous thing you’ll see on the high street. If you go to Trinity Leeds, Victoria’s Secret stands out like a jewel. It’s one of the most exciting retailers in the centre. It’s the same thing in Westfield, Stratford and then the Bond Street flagship is astonishing – there’s a whole bunch of Oxford Street shoppers, who have never been to Bond Street before, that are travelling down there. It’s not even signed posted, and yet they are still visiting the store. I think they are absolutely transforming the store experience in the UK.”