Victoria's Secret media relations
Victoria's Secret is facing a deluge of competition from lingerie start-ups that seek to challenge the brand.
Brands like AdoreMe, Intimint, and True & Co. are trying to seduce Victoria's Secret customers with lower prices and more tailored selections.
AdoreMe offers direct-to-consumer lingerie at about half of Victoria's Secret prices.
Intimint asks customers to take a quiz and sends them new lingerie selections every month, based on their preferences. True & Co. sends women five bras a month, giving them the option of keeping what they like and sending back what they don't.
While these brands are consumer-friendly and creative, their business models ignore exactly what makes Victoria's Secret so successful.
In the '90s, Victoria's Secret used to focus on value. But the brand floundered because there was nothing to set it apart from other price-friendly brands like Hanes and Maidenform.
Victoria's Secret didn't start dominating lingerie until it stopped being cheap and began focusing on the customer experience.
Stores were redesigned with soft, pink wallpaper and inviting fitting rooms. Friendly, attractive associates were trained to greet customers and measure their bra sizes.
Women were willing to pay $50 for bras because the luxury experience made their lingerie purchases feel like investments.
This attention to customer service helped Victoria's Secret overtake competitors like Frederick's of Hollywood and post record sales even during an economic downturn.
AdoreMe CEO Morgan Hermand-Waiche told Business Insider that "people are so tired of high prices and slow-fashion from Victoria's Secret."
But Victoria's Secret's sales suggest differently: The brand recently reported a 6% increase in the second quarter, on top of a 10% increase last year. That's among the best in the retail industry.
Women don't line up at Victoria's Secret because it's cheap or has an ever-changing assortment of merchandise.
They trust the brand and feel like a trip to a Victoria's Secret store is a treat.
Victoria's Secret offers an experience that e-commerce retailers simply can't compete with.
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