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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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