3 things I would do if I was Victoria’s Secret CEO

Despite Victoria’s Secret being one of my favorite companies, a lot of us can agree that the company urges for some change. Conveying one of my wildest dreams, here are 3 things that I would do if I was Victoria’s Secret CEO.

I’m not going to lie. I love Victoria’s Secret.

Since the first time I stepped into a store, I felt a sense of empowerment and pride as I made the choice to purchase new items, and was the happiest woman in the body mist and lotion section. I felt in some sort of paradise.

I admired Victoria’s Secret for several reasons. It was one of the first companies that truly empowered women to see personal clothing as a form of self-expression.

The company truly broke into the industry and defined cultural femininity for women — for better or for worse.

But most importantly, I used to love the marketing strategies that Victoria’s Secret implemented. I can’t deny their email marketing is a winner: providing sneak peeks of new collections and early-access to very limited-offers. As well as offering coupon codes that aren’t advertised anywhere else.

And above all, their semi-annual sales were incredible. Nothing like walking into this store in the summer or winter, where there are so many high-quality items with relatively low prices.

But as much as I loved and grew up with this company, I can’t deny that Victoria’s Secret has struggled. And it has done so, in my opinion, for 3 reasons.

The 3 reasons why Victoria’s Secret has struggled:

  1. Struggled to recognize a societal movement towards women realizing their empowerment comes from their personality, values, and ambition
  2. Failed to understand that there is more than one type of woman
  3. Awareness towards many companies carrying misogynistic ties and the fantasy of what men consider the ‘ideal’ woman

Those responsible to decode what the shopping experience at Victoria’s Secret would be like could argue that their purpose was for the customers to feel great, empowered, and excited to wear their items.

However, Victoria’s Secret failed to acknowledge that a lot of the time, customers would leave the stores with many items due to the huge clearance (instead of purposeful shopping), feelings signifying lower self-esteem as the comparison is unavoidable to the tabloid models, and a feeling of ‘Can I actually wear this?’.

Mary Hanbury from Insider said it well: “Maybe the idea behind Victoria’s Secret, of selling underwear with fantasy and glamour and multimillion-dollar fashion shows, is what’s out-of-date now.”

So, who is doing it right?

Brands like Savage X Fenty, Aerie Real, and Parade, are companies that are focused on inclusivity, listening to the customer, and showcasing an ‘attainable’ perspective and something closer to what reality looks like.

These brands are catering to diverse and real people who seek comfort and confidence. Such companies have understood what people, especially women, are looking for when buying intimate items.

In an article describing the new competitors of Victoria’s Secret, Seth Stevenson mentioned “You market to men and sell a male fantasy to women. … Your show may be a ‘fantasy,’ but we live in reality.”

As the CEO, I’d listen to these perspectives and look to make an authentic change.

How to evoke authentic change?

To grow as an organization, and incorporate new values, I would pursue internal and external changes.

1. For one, social media marketing is incredibly important. Beyond producing content for the official Instagram pages, I would follow the steps of other brands and target micro-influencers, and encourage them to launch content campaigns.

In today’s era, people feel incredibly connected to the people that they follow and admire online. I’ve personally made many purchase decisions and take my inspiration figures’ word as ‘gospel’. Victoria’s Secret yet has to tap this market and work with influencers on the micro-level to spread the message that the brand cares about all individuals, all types of bodies, and all types of background.

2. Another change that I would pursue is to make a demographic and psychographic analysis of my customers to transform our messaging to be inclusive. It’s incredibly important for individuals to feel represented, cared for, and identified.

3. And my last change, would be to change things from within. From hiring directors from diverse backgrounds to bringing models that represent different body sizes, ethnicities, and races to also including the representation of men and the LGBTQ+ community.

On top of this, it’s crucial to understand women’s education towards understanding that the value they bring to this world is beyond their appearance but in what their passions, interests, and personalities have to offer to this world. And that no longer do women seek to embody an unrealistic standard of what they should look like, but to accept themselves and their inner purpose.

As the CEO of Victoria’s Secret, I would understand that the new fantasy is embracing reality.

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Fernanda López

Marketing & Neuroscience Student | Co-Vice President of Northeastern’s WeBuild Incubator | Passion for learning