Vicky is my homegirl because she makes my geeky Asian body actually look semi-decent :)

Vicky is my homegirl because she makes my geeky Asian body actually look semi-decent :)

Happy Wednesday people :)
Today let's bring up another 1st world problem. It's so hard to find good help lingerie these days. Take a look at Victoria's Secret. Overall they're a pretty good balance between price and quality, but there is no doubt that they hold a monopoly on the middle market of lingerie. And they know it -- which is why sometimes they abuse their power as the monarch and put out undies in garish colors and fugly prints, expecting that we'll just put up with it...

Over my dead body will I wear garish colors and fugly prints! So sometimes I think that I've had it with Victoria's Secret and I'm eschewing them for good. That's it, I'm moving my behind (and my girls) to Nordstrom's intimates department.

But to be fair, Victoria's Secret is a lot smarter than that. While they do make a lot of thoughtlessly designed & cheap "value" offerings, they also make gorgeous higher-end pieces. And other parts of the brand are really very well done. Their annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is an hour long combination of A-list artists (like Justin Timberlake, Usher, Rihanna) + supermodels in lingerie. Isn't that like, the epitome of entertainment? CBS execs must be forever patting themselves on the backs and giving themselves raises for scoring that contract. And I would say they deserve it.



I like Victoria's Secret. I dislike Victoria's Secret. The cognitive dissonance gets unbearable. So I motivated myself to very begrudingly take a break from all my beloved science homework to surf around and see what I could learn about the company. My goal was to finally make up my mind once and for ALL whether or not I would let Victoria's Secret adorn my butt.

Told ya these were 1st world problems. :D If you ever felt on the fence about VS, read on and see 9 Ways Victoria's Secret is a boss.

1. VS started with a brand story. Being in the lingerie business is tricky because if you're not careful, you could come off as slutty, sleazy, or kinky. So Victoria's Secret's story is: an English-French model named Victoria started her own line of lingerie. The first Victoria's Secret catalogues listed prices in pounds and included a fake company address in London. The brand emphasized English sophistication and European luxury all the while operating from its headquarters in Ohio, lol. Gilly Hicks is finding success with the same strategy: the thoroughly American brand presents itself as Sydney-based, selling cute undies from down under :)

2. The marketing budget is huge -- $66 million. The annual fashion show alone has a budget of over $12 million. (For reference, the same 60 minutes can be spent watching an episode of Mad Men for a measly $3 million.) The result of so much marketing is that after a while, the average consumer begins to think that the reason why VS is such a big name is because of their reputation/quality… when really, it's just because they paid to be ubiquitous. (Don't get too cynical -- no one would put up with them for the long term -- and VS has been with us since 1977! -- if there wasn't also merit in their products.)

3. VS takes regular models and turns them into supermodels that are household names. I know, I know, Miranda Kerr was working it for the presitigious houses of Baby Phat and Billabong before she was ever an Angel, but did anyone from outside the fashion world know her? The fact is, my mom didn't know who she was then, but after she became an Angel my mom would start conversations like "Quinn, don't you think Miranda looks sooo good post-baby?"

Very strategic and precarious combination of modesty, photo framing, and "I don't want you to see my wobbly bits."

Very strategic and precarious combination of modesty, photo framing, and "I don't want you to see my wobbly bits."

4. Jargon. Friend me on facebook. I'll have a venti soy latte. When you get consumers to use your own vocab, it strengthens your brand. VS creates not just supermodels but Victoria's Secret Angels. They walk the runway wearing the tradition of wings and the fantasy bra.

5. Decided to sell to women instead of men. Initially VS was meant to be a non-embarassing place for men to buy lingerie for their women. Interiors were all wood and leather, very masculine. But it's better to sell to women -- they are the more powerful consumer group. Women make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions. And as women pursue higher education/careers and family life, they are the consumer group that is the most stressed. They work during the day, then come home to the "expected" house chores for women -- cooking, cleaning, child care. As a result women are very willing to spend on (1) convenience: anything that saves time or lightens the workload or (2) rewarding their hard work and validating themselves. (Note: On my reading list is Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World's Most Powerful Consumers)

6. Caters to their demographic perfectly. Two-thirds of the viewers for the VS Fashion Show are women… and 98% of VS customers are women. So the bottom line is that VS is going to be complying with women's conceptions of beauty and sexiness, not mens'. Their annual show offers women espacism, glamour, and models' tips on working out and style. VS also is very aware of treading the line between sexy and slutty. And my personal favorite piece of genius from VS: cashing in on both the concepts of beauty and sexiness by equivocating the two.

7. There are no direct competitors. Some feeble competition from Gap Body, aerie, and Gilly Hicks.

8. VS goes on sale only two times a year, January and July during their semi-annual sales. Other than that, markdowns are pretty rare.

9. Healthy range of products. VS doesn't keep all its eggs in one basket.
     - A "fashion item" has a short product lifestyle (typically a season or two), and remains in style for a short period of time. A "basic item" never goes out of style and is sold every year. VS's offerings are split 60% basic, 40% fashion to make sure people are always buying something.
     - In 2002 Victoria's Secret introduced the sub-brand PINK to (1) bring another demographic into their stores and (2) familiarize this demographic with the VS brand, to promote brand loyalty in the future. The PINK sub-brand was a response to the Abercrombie & Fitch brand (which was actually once a part of the same company that holds VS, L Brands Inc. [formerly Limited Brands Inc.])

The final verdict? Victoria's Secret is a total boss when it comes to undies and business strategy. Beauty and brains, people! It gets my butt's approval. How about yours? Let me know what you think of VS in the comments! And follow me on Bloglovin'! :D