Falling Angels: Victoria’s Secret Struggles in its Home Market

October 2019

Victoria’s Secret is struggling, particularly in its core business of women’s underwear. In addition to declining mall traffic and increasing competition from online players, changing consumer attitudes surrounding female empowerment and body positivity have been largely to blame for Victoria’s Secret’s falling sales. This report highlights Victoria’s Secret’s recent struggles as well as the brand’s future plans and prospects.

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Key Findings

Lingerie empire continues losing share in the US

The US women’s underwear market saw positive growth over 2015-2018, with value sales increasing by 9%. Despite this favourable growth, however, the market leader, Victoria’s Secret, saw its value sales drop by 16% over 2015-2018, causing its market share in its core category to decrease from 32% to 25% in just three years.

Empowered female consumers reject Victoria’s Secret’s brand image

A major contributing factor to Victoria’s Secret’s decline has been changing attitudes among American women. An upsurge in feminism and body-positive messaging have led American women to prioritise brands and products that promote female empowerment. Some of the most successful advertising campaigns by Victoria’s Secret’s competitors have featured unedited photos and bodies of all shapes and sizes as women prefer more body-positive messaging. Many feel that Victoria’s Secret’s overtly sexy imagery is out of touch with today’s consumers.

Inclusive newcomers increase competition for Victoria’s Secret

The emergence of new competitors such as ThirdLove and American Eagle Outfitters’s aerie has increased competition for Victoria’s Secret. These new players utilise social media marketing to promote messages of empowerment and body positivity, appealing to today’s inclusivity-minded consumers. In comparison, Victoria’s Secret static, hyper-sexualised marketing campaigns have garnered backlash from consumers.

Can Victoria’s Secret turn itself around?

The US women’s underwear market expects healthy performance, growing by a CAGR of 2% over 2018-2023. If Victoria’s Secret wants to continue taking a sizeable share in this market, it should make fundamental changes to its brand image and positioning. In order to do so, the brand will need to understand today’s consumers’ needs and wants and become more inclusive.

Key findings
Victoria’s Secret struggles in its core business of women’s underwear
American women are drawn to inclusive brands
Victoria’s Secret grows more disconnected from todays’ consumers
Victoria’s Secret ignores the new inclusivity norm
New competitors are capturing the attention of today’s consumers
New players tout unique selling points
aerie became a remarkable growth engine for American Eagle Outfitters
Can Victoria’s Secret turn around its struggling lingerie business? (1)
Can Victoria’s Secret turn around its struggling lingerie business? (2)

Apparel and Footwear

Apparel is the aggregation of clothing and footwear. This dataset covers retail sales of apparel through both store-based retailers and non-store retailers. Excludes black market sales (i.e. untaxed, generated within informal retailing)and duty free sales (travel retail). Items must be new when sold to the consumer; second-hand/used items are excluded. Antique and/or vintage clothing and footwear is also excluded.

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