Victoria’s Secret, the iconic lingerie retailer, is experiencing the sting of reality after a bold attempt to rebrand left them grappling with sinking sales figures. In a dramatic shift from their renowned image characterized by glamorous models, the brand embraced a new ‘woke’ identity in 2021, spotlighting figures like soccer star and activist Megan Rapinoe as a brand ambassador. However, the company’s foray into social progressiveness proved commercially costly, prompting a strategic about-face.
This seismic shift, designed to reflect inclusivity, saw the brand diversifying its traditional lineup of models. It wasn’t just about showcasing conventional beauty anymore; the brand extended its representation to include plus-size and transgender models in a bid to resonate with a broader audience. Yet, this well-intentioned move failed to invigorate their customer base, with a stark revenue projection for this year hitting just $6.2 billion, a jarring decline from 2020’s $7.5 billion — nearly a 20% nosedive.
Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters expressed disappointment at the outcome, stating, “Despite the earnest efforts of all involved, the strategy failed to revive our brand’s fortunes.”
The rebrand’s notable moments included not only the enlistment of Rapinoe, known for her advocacy for transgender women’s participation in women’s sports, but also the hiring of Valentina Sampaio, the brand’s first transgender model. This inclusive approach, however, marked the end of an era with the resignation of Ed Razek, the former chief marketing officer, post-Sampaio’s recruitment.
Critics and consumers alike foresaw the pitfalls of this radical rebranding. It seems Victoria’s Secret, in its pursuit to personify the zeitgeist of social awareness and diversity, lost sight of its core identity and consumer desires. The question now hovers: has the brand tarnished its allure irreversibly, or is there a chance for redemption?
Now, as the brand plans to revert to its foundational marketing strategies, emphasizing the sensual and exclusive image that once crowned it the queen of lingerie retail, the world watches. Will this return to its roots be the lifeline Victoria’s Secret desperately needs, or is it a last gasp for a brand struggling to navigate the fine line between social relevance and commercial success? The fashion world awaits the outcome with bated breath, curious to see if Victoria’s Secret can recapture the magic that once defined it.