Victoria’s Secret sells women’s underwear, but has been marketing to men

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

Victoria’s Secret sells women’s underwear, but the target demographic for its marketing is men.

The L Brands Inc. LB, +1.64%[1]   lingerie chain has faced a host of problems in recent quarters that are affecting sales and same-store sales. It’s also facing increased competition from large companies like American Eagle Outfitters Inc.’s AEO, +0.04%[2]   Aerie brand and Urban Outfitters Inc. URBN, -3.16%[3]  , and changing tastes, with bralettes coming into fashion.

In recent weeks, L Brands has cut its full-year guidance[4] and has announced that it will shutter its luxury department store chain, Henri Bendel, including the website.

MarketWatch reached out to L Brands for comment, and will update this story with any response.

Shares are down nearly 51% for the year so far while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, -0.18%[5]   has gained 13.8%, the Amplify Online Retail ETF IBUY, -1.02%[6]   has gained 29.6%, and the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.04%[7]   has rallied 8.6%.

Read: Henri Bendel closure a loss for shoppers but could drive gains at L Brands[8]

Executives from online women’s underwear sellers that MarketWatch spoke with say they are finding success and snapping up share with a different approach: offering women product benefits and marketing messages that have been part of the men’s underwear business for ages. Comfort and performance are at the heart of what these companies are selling, and the message resonates with modern, busy women of all shapes and sizes.

Younger women, they say, are opening the door to this new way of selling women’s underwear.

“When you look at Victoria’s Secret marketing, they continue to do the runway show,” said Catalina Girald, founder of Naja, a socially-conscious lingerie brand aimed at millennials. The Victoria’s Secret Runway Show used to be marketing gold for the brand. Lately, ratings have...

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