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After ditching its iconic Angels, Victoria’s Secret’s marketing chief reveals how she plans to win back disillusioned shoppers, empower women and make the brand relevant again

  • Victoria’s Secret just launched a major overhaul of its brand image, embracing women’s empowerment.
  • Insider chatted with CMO Martha Pease on the brand’s repositioning, and how it plans to stand out from its rivals.
  • Pease said the brand planned to spend more on advertising, particularly broad-reach channels like TV.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Victoria’s Secret wants to become the world’s leading advocate for women.

This week, the lingerie giant took a significant step to overhaul its brand image and win back disillusioned shoppers, ditching its infamous scantily-clad Angels for seven new spokespeople part of a group it’s calling the VS Collective.

Martha Pease, Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, who joined the brand in December, talked to Insider about how the brand is addressing its image issues and where it’s headed next.

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

What did you see as the biggest issues with the brand and the most immediate things that you wanted to address at the company?

“The biggest issue with the brand is relevance. The core equity of the brand is not the issue. We need to accelerate how the brand keeps up with women and where they are today. We lost our connection to how women were changing, how their views of themselves were changing.”

How do you plan to achieve that relevance?

“Relevance is not just an idea, it’s a true strategy that translates us into being a bigger part of women’s lives. With VS Collective, we are embracing the idea of bringing perspective from the outside in to help us grow and to help us become more relevant.”

How do you differentiate yourself from competitors like Aerie, ThirdLove, and Lively, who’ve already focused on body-positivity and empowerment?

“Our vision is to be the world’s leading advocate for women. We want to inspire women all over the world with products, experiences and platforms that uplift and champion them and their journey.

Our differentiation lies in our position and scale [as market leaders], and how we can leverage that on behalf of our consumers, and ultimately, our business and our stakeholders. There are not many brands in the world, let alone in our category, that could step up to that vision and actually have the potential to deliver on it.”

How do you respond to the criticism that this repositioning is too little, too late?

“It’s not too little, because this is just the beginning of a journey. We’re being very intentional about how we use our scale and show up for women, whether it’s through experiences, content, products or channels. Business is thriving. Our customer growth, less promotionality, healthy margin – these exceptional results are all indicators that it is certainly not too little, too late.”

What’s your biggest focus right now?

“I’m most focused on differentiating ourselves. We lost track of that, and were out of step with what women wanted from us. I’m trying to get to what our value proposition is, why women are making the choice to buy us, and what’s driving that. It’s not necessarily the price point or an individual product. It has to do with what’s going on in her life, and it could be occasion-based or even based on life stage.”

Are there aspects of your previous branding that you’re trying to distance yourself from and principles that you want the new brand to embody?

“I don’t think of it in terms of distancing ourselves from the past, as much as I think of it as leaning into the opportunity of the present and the future. Sexy is still core to our DNA, but women don’t want us to define sexy, they just want us to give them inspiration. The real challenge of the brand repositioning and what we’re trying to capture in the concept of the Collective is the multidimensionality of women.”

What are the investments you’re making toward this repositioning?

“As CEO Martin Waters said, with us aspiring to a $7 billion brand, we’d be spending $350 million supporting that across a wide range of activities. But we will start to invest in digital media more than we have historically.”

“A big focus is on new customer acquisition, so we’re spending more in the middle- and upper-marketing funnels, because that will have a disproportionate impact on increasing demand. We haven’t been on OTT, legacy TV, out-of-home, or any of the broad reach channels that drive awareness for quite a while. Now, we’ll be ubiquitous.”

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