Short answer, yes by a mile.
This is a business that in the late 90s-early 2000s reinvented itself with supermodels like Giselle and million dollar bras modelled by Heidi Klum. Selling customers the dream of being a white, hot, and heterosexual. Oh, how times have so fundamentally changed.
We are now living in a world where this paradigm is being totally shifted.Thanks of generational change, the internet or the whole ‘woke’ movement (if you don’t understand what that is it’s worthwhile reading this).  It’s no longer about desiring to be someone you’re not; but being inclusive of all and showing up the way you are – in fact more than that but being proud of who you are. It’s a move to body inclusivity, gender fluidity, multi-cultural diversity and general acceptance of who we each are as individuals. A shift from selling the ‘supermodel’ dream to celebrating our diversity.
Victoria Secret’s inability to embrace this new world is evidenced not just in their sales results but in the recent reaction to their fashion show. This weakness is contrasted even further when you look at the success of inclusive lingerie brands like Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, Third Love, Lonely Lingerie and Lively.
Just look at the difference here:

Let’s start with their sales:

Victoria’s Secret has been having a rough time of it. With increasing competitors embracing the trend for inclusivity; to a multi-cultural customer who is not identifying with their homogenous image. The brand’s comparable sales for the full year 2017 were -8% (5 years ago they were +7%) and it doesn’t look as though things are going to get better any time soon with August -5% and September 1%.

When you look at their sales results have they have on a downward trajectory since 2016 – the year Generation Y took over as the largest living generation (right in time with old mate Trump getting into power – which in itself has created great polarisation). Coincidence…I think not.

Now let’s talk about their show:

We have to start by stating yes it has reach (but evidenced above that’s not translating to sales). Actually their viewership has been in decline, according to sources, the event was 32% down on their 2016 audience pulling in 5 million views.
This year’s show is yet to air on TV – even so it hasn’t been without controversy, namely caused by it’s CMO Ed Razek and Head of Public Relations, Monica Mitreo in their recent interview with Vogue Magazine (full interview is here). In this interview both Razek and Mitreo are quoted as essentially not agreeing that the brand need to embrace diversity… or at least their customers definition of diversity (i’m not sure how else to state it):
“We market to who we sell to, and we don’t market to the whole world…We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes (in 2000). No one had any interest in it, still don’t”
When asked about the models in their show, in particular Adriana Limar, their response was stellar:
“This is her 18th year. She is 37 years old. She is so drive and talk about Age diversity”
Call me crazy by 37 is not exactly old age.
Finally and what has created a twitter frenzy is around transgender models. In the interview Razek was asked if they had ever considered using Transgender models, his answer:
“Should you have transsexuals in the show? No. No I don’t think we should. Well, Why Not? Because the Show is a fantasy. A 42 minute entertainment special”. Wow!
And then came the PR response from the Victoria’s Secret team:

Inclusivity is what they needed to address:

To put this into context Victoria Secret has never had a plus sized model cast in it’s show, only just cast it’s first natural hair model 3 years ago. To quote Nylon Magazine: “If you think high fashion shows are delayed when it comes to diversity, you’ll think Victoria’s Secret is it’s sloth companion”
I’m going to finish with a quote from one of their customers – which represents why inclusivity is so important:

There’s an important lesson in this, which is sometimes it’s not about ‘being on brand’ but rather doing the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.

Author Pippa Kulmar

More posts by Pippa Kulmar

Leave a Reply