Victoria’s Secret has long been synonymous with her angels, a swarm of impeccable models wearing push-up bras and angel wings shown on oversized catwalks.
But what was once perceived to be fun and ambitious is now a discard for consumers, who in recent years have soured over promoting the unapproachable beauty brand (which, in retrospect, always seemed more designed for the male gaze than for the consumers Victoria’s Secret was looking for).
Too myopic to keep up with changing consumer behaviors and priorities, including the social media-driven body positivity movement and the growing profiles of lingerie brands that offer stretch sizes, such as Third Love and Savage X Fenty from Rihanna, the company is floundering.
Faced with skyrocketing sales, Victoria’s Secret recently rebooted, installing a new CEO (the old one had social ties to Jeffrey Epstein) and a new board made up almost entirely of women. He also traded his herd of models for a slew of new ambassadors who collectively represent modern inclusiveness and diversity. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, plus-size model Paloma Elsesser and transgender model Valentina Sampaio are among the new faces of the brand.
How consumers will react to the company’s 180-degree turn of mind is a puzzle. Will it sound opportunistic – an exercise of ticking cultural boxes to attract consumers? Time will tell us.
Regardless of how it’s received, the reboot is a valuable case study for all brands, including fine jewelry companies, who are steeped in old-fashioned marketing methods, such as hiring everyone. size 2 models and then snap them up in ball gowns and diamonds walking around. through rolling hills (or some other incongruous backdrop).
The about-face may be more valuable for jewelry brands that still market their products, including engagement rings, only to the men, rather than the women who wear them.
There’s no denying that marketing to women has changed dramatically over the past decade. And this is largely due to the fact that social media has become a big media. In 2021, it is the buzzing engine that guides consumers’ choices and behaviors.
New trends, ideas, slang and styles are born on Instagram and TikTok. And if you’ve recently spent any time on these platforms, you know the artifice is out (and is literally called by users), while the diversity, authenticity, compassion and warts and all reality reign.
Due to the overwhelming influence of social media, industries, including fine jewelry, can no longer expect women to laugh at Photoshopped images of cellulite-free and wrinkle-free femininity ideals.
Yes, the Kardashians still excel, peddling their highly filtered (and surgically performed) beauty brand. But the idea of perfection in femininity is contested on many fronts, and these challenges create lasting changes in attitudes. Plus-size model Ashley Graham, to name one powerful cultural disruptor, proudly shows off her pregnancy stretch marks on Instagram and is one of the highest paid models in the world.
And as consumers become more demanding, incorporating transparency, sustainability, and philanthropy into their purchasing decisions, U.S. businesses have no choice but to echo the tone and feel of social platforms on which they live. Ignoring the shifting cultural tides, as Victoria’s Secret did for so long, becomes an existential risk.
De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, began to move away from marketing its diamonds and jewelry exclusively to men and women around 2017 – the year that De Beers director Stephen Lussier, said in a speech: a man who says: ‘Thank you. I give you this diamond. And that’s not the way women want to be good today… In the ad we’ve worked on, historically, the breadwinner says, “Thanks for looking after the family while I do other things. But in the new world, he has to say, “I’m so proud of you for everything you do. We are making this change and our diamond will continue to be that symbol. It’s very subtle.
Four years later, the change probably shouldn’t even be so subtle. Yes, men buy jewelry and increasingly buy it for themselves (thank you Harry Styles and his pearls). And of course, men still play a role, often an important one, in the sale of engagement rings and jewelry for special occasions.
But the vast majority of women are the public and the main consumer of quality jewelry, and their purchasing power is increasing. They are no longer interested in angelic perfection, they want what is real.
Above: A promotional Victoria’s Secret photo of new Ambassador Megan Rapinoe (photo courtesy of Victoria’s Secret)
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