Victoria’s Secret may be ditching its Angels, but it’s rebrand might not need divine intervention anyway.
After years of declining sales and its proximity to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, among others, the Columbus-based lingerie giant is now starting to see the fruits of its rebranding efforts. The company has been changing its outdated marketing message to be more inclusive for women of all sizes and sexualities since its spinoff from L Brands last August.
Among other changes, last April, it announced it would sell maternity lingerie for the first time. And in June of last year, the brand launched VS Collective, where body-positive icons like tennis star Naomi Osaka and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser announced product collaborations with the brand. Last July, the company said it would display curvy mannequins in stores and expand representations on its website. It also swapped its angels with brand ambassadors including gender equality advocate and soccer player Megan Rapinoe.
Whether customers will return in the long-run remains an open question, but losses are starting to retreat. Its total revenue declined 4.5 percent in the quarter ended April 30, which is better than the 5.2 percent decline analysts polled by Visible Alpha expected. Victoria’s Secret’s CEO Martin Waters said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week that the “brand has ‘arrested’ market share declines in the bra category after consistent periods of decline.”
While it’s still early days for Victoria’s Secret’s rebranding effort, you can already glean some insights. Here are three:
1. Just start.
It can be daunting to set aside a strategy that you’ve been executing for years, but sometimes it is necessary. “Victoria’s Secret has been selling the idea of ‘fantasy’ to consumers for years, but the brand has to let go of its outdated thought to sell ‘reality’ to the audience,” advised fashion writer Gianluca Russo in an interview with Teen Vogue last December.
2. Embrace real change.
Though Victoria’s Secret has suffered in the era of #Metoo, it is still one of the most well-known women’s brands in the United States.
The brand’s cultural influence is a product that cannot be washed away easily, notes Nadia Boujarwah, CEO of plus-size fashion marketplace Dia & Co. “Victoria’s Secret is a brand that has an undeniable place in social discourse on women and our bodies, and this ultimately means they have a huge responsibility to wield that influence thoughtfully,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue last December. Boujarwah adds that this rebrand is “an ambitious undertaking” that might take many years to fully implement, but it’s a move that has the potential to begin real change for the brand and the industry in general.
3. Tout your progress.
Sharing every update from a company’s rebranding effort, isn’t for everyone. After all, doing so might mean displaying unsavory flaws or admitting you were wrong. Victoria’s Secret does not shy away from talking about its failures in public–and that’s a good thing.
“I’ve known that we needed to change this brand for a long time, we just haven’t had the control of the company to be able to do it,” Waters said in an interview with The New York Times last year. “Right now, I don’t see [angels] as being culturally relevant.”
What never goes out of style? Being upfront with customers.