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Skin Story: The Brand Development of Victoria’s Secret

Victoria's Secret storefront

Feather wings, crystals, corsets, lace and a lot of skin... These are the first things that come to mind for most people when they think of Victoria’s Secret. With undergarment collections like 'Very Sexy' and 'Bombshell', Victoria's Secret has created a self-image that's not shy about its approach: “sex sells." However, VS's brand image hasn't always been focused on sex appeal and directed toward women. The original mission of Victoria's Secret was centered around the idea of creating a store to make a man comfortable when purchasing women’s lingerie.

Beginnings of the Brand

Fueled by his negative experiences at department stores and underwhelming and frumpy undergarment products from brands like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, entrepreneur Roy Raymond decided to make a change.  He felt so strongly about making a difference that he researched the lingerie market tirelessly for nearly 8 years and Victoria's Secret was born. It was the early 80s and the brand was a “niche player” in the undergarment business.

According to HubPages, "The décor of the stores were Victorian designed with wood panel walls and friendly staff. Instead of bras and panties being hung on a sterile rack, they were paired together in all sizes and mounted on frames. The stores were very detailed and were quite inviting when a gentleman came to purchase lingerie." At this time men held all of the buying power and no other company had ever saturated this market. The brand was new and suggestive. Below are a few examples of the branding used to appeal to solely male consumers.

Male Branding

However, this brand proved it could only thrive for so long until the market became unresponsive. Times were changing and Victoria's Secret knew that they had to do something fast in order to stay on top – their image needed a boost.

Elevating the brand with a new focus

In 1983, VS’s image and brand were revamped. The new brand image was now focused on women. Because women were beginning to have more buying power, they had a newfound desire to feel glamorous and independent. VS’s new mission was reflective of these new social values and what was appealing to women. Their newer branding and advertisements were designed to exude luxury, allure, and envy. Below depicts their branding used to target female consumers.

Female Branding

Victoria's Secret is a prime example of the effect a strategic marketing and well-versed branding team can have on sales. They took the same product, and instead of marketing to men, began targeting women; this strategic move spurred massive growth in sales and made Victoria's Secret one of the ten most recognizable brands in the country. So why is the brand so recognizable?

Appeal to a wide range of women

Once they made their transition to the female market, a plethora of avenues opened up that were ripe at their disposal. Victoria's Secret became a one-stop shop for all of a woman’s needs. They were no longer solely a lingerie store, they now offered everyday undergarments, sleep wear, beauty, sport, clothing, shoes, swimwear, and PINK (a line that's appropriate for teenage girls). Whether you were looking for something to wear to bed or something to wear to the beach, Victoria's Secret has it all.

Consistent new products

Victoria's Secret is constantly coming out with new products. They have at least ten different collections of bras – each introduced at different times. This is smart because it makes the store seem fresh every time the consumer walks in. When it comes to beauty, they are constantly coming out with new fragrances, makeup lines, lotions, and hair products. Every spring they also come out with a new catalog of bathing suits for the upcoming summer.

And of course, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

The Victoria's Secret Fashion show has become an American tradition. It is a must-watch show for young women all over the world. With over 9 million viewers, the show “is seen, in one way or another, in over 200 countries in print, Facebook, YouTube, and televisions specials,” said Ed Razek. The company spends well over $10 million to hire young talent such as Justin Bieber, which then, in turn, brings in a new faction of customers. Two-thirds of the viewing audience are in fact women, so it is no surprise that the models are chosen based on their appeal to women, not men. The show is designed with models that appear charming, down-to-earth and relatable to the average female audience.

It's no coincidence that Victoria's Secret has become one of the most successful brands in the world. They have gotten where they are today through killer knowledge of their target audience and impeccable brand development.