When you hear the words "Victoria's Secret" what comes to mind? Sexy models? Flashy fashion shows? Plunging cleavage? Revealing lingerie? Well, these days those traditionally eye-grabbing marketing tactics may no longer be working.
Growth has been slowing in Victoria's Secret's bra business, with bra sales rising less than 10% down from growth rates in prior quarters. Shares for Victoria's Secret's parent company, L. Brands Inc., have plummeted 29% so far this year.
You don't have to look far to know why. Bralettes have grown in popularity over the last year, with customers now preferring comfort over constraint. And Victoria's Secret has done their best to keep current with the trend. They are continuing to dedicate more store space to the underwire-less bralettes and using the new marketing attempt of "no padding is sexy".
There has been a fundamental shift in what millennial consumers are wanting and expecting from their bras over the past year. Victoria's Secret has traditionally succeeded through flashy marketing campaigns and expensive padded bras. However, more and more consumers are beginning to search for bralettes, which have an average price of closer to $20 rather than $50. A more natural look is what is in style these days and it could end up seriously hurting Victoria's Secret.
Competitors of the brand have also been attempting to follow the new bra trends. American Eagle Outfitters Inc.'s lingerie brand, Aerie, has increased their sales dramatically after committing to non-airbrushed, more natural ads. They also jumped onto the bralette fad early on. "The next generations coming up the pike are particularly more comfortable in their own skin," Aerie brand presdient Jennifer Foyle told Business Insider.
Victoria's Secret's traditional advertising methods, also, may no longer be working for the company. “You have these other brands that are less so overtly sexy and much more focused on being natural," said Nomura analyst Simeon Siegel. “It’s too early to say it will steal a dramatic share from Victoria’s Secret but it’s not too early to say that there’s a real consumer preference for it.”
Victoria's Secret has been noticing a difference however, through both the decline in sales as well as viewers: the Victoria's Secret Fashion Showed dropped 32% this last year from the 2014 show. "Their traditional brand marketing is aging and it’s not really connecting with modern-day consumers,” said Cora Harrington, editor in chief of the Lingerie Addict blog.
Victoria Secret has been taking steps to remedy these issues and appeal to modern trends. However, it is too soon to tell if it will be enough to keep their business booming.