“Major women’s underwear brands … have been losing market share to private labels over the years [… and] private label brands that are leading the way include specialty retailers like Victoria’s Secret.” (Business Insider)
Founded in 1977, today Victoria’s Secret (VS) is the largest American retailer of lingerie and every year millions of TV viewers tune in to the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” a brand building extravaganza, pushing up angel cleavage and network ratings. “In 2013, the one-hour telecast drew 9.71 million viewers,” according to the LA Times.
However, Victoria didn’t always boast the fanfare it is known for today. In fact, if you take a closer look at Victoria’s Secret their success has more to do with what’s underneath – a brilliant marketing strategy, that is. Here’s a look at five powerful Victoria’s Secret marketing lessons every entrepreneur can leverage:
1. Build a brand bigger than product.
Victoria’s Secret sells a lifestyle. The spokeswomen are supermodels called Angels. So, as you know, it’s not all about bras. In contrast, for many small businesses it is all about the product. This is problematic because, as the old adage goes, “If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Meaning, we see the world through our own frame of reference. When it comes to branding, focus on the lifestyle not merely the product.
To build a world-class brand you’ll have to grab your customers’ lenses and look deep into their wants, needs and desires. Essentially, your marketing efforts should tap into the intersection of a customer’s interests and the features of your brand, also known as consumer insights. Move past short-term transactional selling (i.e., promote and sell only) to building long-term relationships.
Learn why they care about your brand. What are their underlying mindsets, motivation, and aspirations that trigger their attitude and actions? Yes! They buy your widgets, but where do they hangout on weekends, what activities do they engage in, what values do they hold dear? When you unlock these insights and reflect a “I understand you” message to them, a brand is born.
2. Engage in brand building activities.
The Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show, debuted in 1995, is just one shining example of their strategic brand building efforts. Sure, the retailer is concerned with transactional sales, but they also understand the bigger picture – one strategic event can indirectly impact your bottom line. According to reports, “the extravaganza has evolved into the fashion event of the year and reportedly is worth $5 billion in sales for Victoria’s Secret.” Not too shabby, eh?!
For small businesses it is admittedly tough to brand build. The reality is transactional sales trump branding when funds are limited. So, the extent to which you brand build is directly tied to the stage of your business, available resources and business goals. But don’t fret; even a baby brand on the smallest budget can start. If you’re not convinced, consider the very humble beginnings of Victoria Secret’s annual fashion show. Which leads me to my next point.
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