“What do you mean ‘the rise and fall of Victoria’s Secret?’ They didn’t fall!
That’s right, Victoria’s Secret is no longer the Queen of lingerie.
What was once the dominant name in women’s underwear is now a fraction of what it once was. Slow adaptations to an evolving market, sudden and frequent leadership changes, and a handful of controversies have all but ended Victoria’s Secret’s once unshakeable reign.
The rise and fall of Victoria’s Secret has been a business tale of immense success, missed opportunities, and poor decisions.
Hey, at least we got Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum out of it.
An Awkward Trip To The Bra Store
American businessman Roy Raymond needed to buy a bra for his wife. Why she didn’t or couldn’t buy herself a bra isn’t really part of the story for some reason. Frankly, it’s mildly impressive that a man in the 1970s knows his wife’s bra size and is willing to go out and buy it.
Raymond apparently had an awkward experience buying a bra for his wife. He was so uncomfortable he thought,
“I should start a bra business.”
So, in 1977, Raymond founded a women’s underwear shop targeting male consumers. He named it Victoria’s Secret.
How did he come up with the name? Who is Victoria? And what is her secret? Slate writer Naomi Barr eloquently explained in 2013:
“Raymond imagined a Victorian boudoir, replete with dark wood, oriental rugs, and silk drapery. He chose the name Victoria to evoke the propriety and respectability associated with the Victorian era: outwardly refined, Victoria’s ‘secrets’ were hidden underneath.”
And just like that, Victoria’s Secret was born.
Enter Wexner – A Businessman’s Businessman
By 1982, Victoria’s Secret was raking in an annual $4 million but was at risk of bankruptcy. To save what he saw as a potentially profitable brand, businessman’s businessman Les Wexler of Limited Brands (now L Brands) swooped in to lead the lingerie company.
Wexner took Raymond’s concept of a women’s underwear store for men and thought,
“Nahhhh, let’s do something else.”
The immensely successful Wexner took Raymond’s vision and flipped it. Taking inspiration from the European lingerie market (specifically La Perla), Wexner rebranded Victoria’s Secret not for men but for women.
The idea that women’s lingerie could be for women was a fresh idea. In less than a decade, Victoria’s Secret was the largest lingerie retailer in the U.S. with 350 stores nationally and sales topping $1 billion.
And then came the fashion show…
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Is Born
In 1995, Victoria’s Secret annual fashion show made its debut. The idea that you could have a fashion show focused entirely on women’s underwear was a foreign concept. Ed Razek, L Brand’s longtime chief marketing officer, stepped in to run the show.
He and his team handpicked each model (as opposed to ordering them in bulk?) to walk the runway. The vision for a new kind of fashion show was taking off. It quickly became an iconic staple of Victoria’s Secret, launching the careers of Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, and many others.
The Victoria’s Secret “Angels” came into play after a commercial promoting its Angels underwear collection aired in 1997.
“Angel” almost immediately became synonymous with the Victoria’s Secret brand.
The Angels Flew High…
In 1999, the fashion show aired online for the first time. 1.5 million viewers tuned in and crashed the site. Victoria’s Secret broke the internet long before Kim Kardashian’s fat ass did.
From there, the show only got increasingly lavish. The Victoria’s Secret Annual Fashion Show was THE fashion show to see.
In 2000, Tom Brady’s future wife wore a $15 million dollar diamond and ruby-encrusted Fantasy Bra at the show.
It’s hard to imagine a fashion show more extravagant than a bra worth more than some country’s GDP, but Victoria’s Secret kept going.
Products like the Miracle Bra and Body by Victoria became blockbusters in their own right. Bras never sold so well.
In 2000, Sharen Jester Turney hopped on as CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct. She made some critical changes to Victoria’s Secret catalog – less Playboy more Vogue. Six years later, Turney took over as CEO of the whole brand. Under her tenure, Victoria’s Secret thrived. Sales increased by 70% to $7.7 billion.
Victoria’s Secret was officially the Queen of lingerie.
…But Too Close To The Sun
Starting in 2015, sales began to falter due to a significant shift in the market. Body positive/inclusive brands like Aerie, ThirdLove, and Lively, emerged to snag a sizeable share of the lingerie market.
In 2016, Turney abruptly stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Wexner as interim CEO.
In a couple of swift, ruthless business moves, Wexner killed the catalog, swimwear, and apparel to focus exclusively on lingerie (the bread and butter of Victoria’s Secret). He then split Victoria’s Secret into three distinct companies with their own respective CEOs:
Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and Pink (the VS brand aimed at teens).
After these major changes, Jan Singer entered as the new CEO. Two years later, she would resign after showrunner Razek angered the internet over his comments on trans and plus-size models.
By this time, the iconic fashion show severely dipped in viewership and the company’s market share had dropped from 33% to 24%.
In 2019, John Mehas took over as CEO and had a very angry board to deal with. James A Mitarotonda, CEO of Barington and Victoria’s Secret board member wrote in a letter:
“Victoria’s Secret’s brand image is starting to appear to many as being outdated and even a bit ‘tone deaf’ by failing to be aligned with women’s evolving attitudes towards beauty, diversity, and inclusion.”
The company made attempts to be relevant once again. Raznek “resigned” the day the company hired its first trans model, Valentina Sampaio. They also hired a “body-inclusive” model Barbara Palvin.
And, on November 2, 2019, the iconic Victoria’s Secret Annual Fashion Show was canceled.
Once the trendsetter, Victoria’s Secret was now playing catch up. And it may have been too late.
Yikes on Bikes – The Epstein Connection
Just when Victoria’s Secret was in the middle of a critical rebranding, they got caught up in the Epstein scandal.
As he did with many, many wealthy business folks, Epstein managed Wexner’s finances. That connection proved to be a harmful one, as Epstein would use his connection to Victoria’s Secret as a means of coercing his victims into sexual acts.
“At some point in your life we are all betrayed by friends,
“Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to.
“But that is in the past.”
This was the last thing Victoria’s Secret needed.
In 2020, Wexner stepped down as chairman and CEO of L Brands and sold a majority stake in Victoria’s Secret. By the end of the year, 250 Victoria’s Secret and Pink stores permanently closed.
A Body Inclusive Victoria’s Secret?
Victoria’s Secret’s latest attempts to be body-inclusive or body-positive are coming across as late, to put it diplomatically. Nobody bought into their attempts to celebrate diverse bodies. They lacked the credibility after decades of promoting one body type.
Kate Moss was out and Lizzo was in.
Victoria’s Secret was too little, too late in their attempts to catch up with an evolving market. They failed to adapt when the time came and their sales suffered because of it.
Does Victoria’s Secret Have A Future?
Last year, Victoria’s Secret had a small bump in online sales. They swapped their iconic Angels for activists and entrepreneurial women.
As a company, Victoria’s Secret is in recovery mode. Under new leadership, the lingerie giant is sailing on its own. Whether or not the brand finds a new identity in a very different fashion world is up for speculation.
There are lessons to be learned from the rise and fall of Victoria’s Secret: always have a sense for an evolving market and adapt sooner rather than later.
Embrace Failure to Unlock Success: 3 TED Talks That Show Us How
We’ve all experienced it – that sinking feeling of disappointment in the wake of a perceived failure. It’s a universal moment where aspirations seem to crumble and self-doubt looms large.
If you’re in that place right now and are looking for inspiration, you’ve landed on the right article.
In this post, we delve into three TED Talks that unpack the enigma of failure and its unexpected role in cultivating success. These talks offer a kaleidoscope of perspectives on why failure isn’t just an inevitable milestone but a necessary companion on the road to success.
1. Embrace the near win (Sarah Lewis)
When talking about success and mastery, the concept of failure often carries a negative connotation, something people try to avoid. However, in her enlightening 2014 TED Talk, “Embrace the Near Win,” art historian Sarah Lewis offers a refreshing perspective on the role of near-failures in our journey toward success.
Her insights, drawn from a blend of personal experiences and historical anecdotes, reveal the hidden power of the almost-failure, the near win, in shaping our path to mastery.
Lewis’s journey into understanding the value of near wins began with her first job at the Museum of Modern Art, working on a retrospective of painter Elizabeth Murray. She recalls a significant moment when Murray pointed out that some of her early works didn’t meet her expectations. One piece, deemed a failure by Murray, was discarded, only to be rescued by a neighbor who saw its value.
This incident sparked a realization in Lewis: success is fleeting, but the pursuit of creativity and mastery is a continuous process. It’s not the success itself but the near wins along the way that propel us forward.
“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.” – Sarah Lewis
Lewis extends this concept through the metaphor of archery, describing a visit to watch varsity archers. She observed the archer’s paradox, where the path to hitting the target involves aiming slightly off-course. This paradox mirrors the journey to mastery – it’s not about hitting the bullseye with every shot but understanding and valuing the near misses that drive continuous improvement.
As Lewis eloquently puts it, “Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s in constantly wanting to close that gap between where you are and where you want to be.”
- Actionable Tip: Start recognizing and valuing your near wins. Whether in professional endeavors, creative pursuits, or personal goals, take time to reflect on those moments that fell just short of success. Understand that these instances are not failures but stepping stones towards mastery. They are opportunities to learn, adjust, and grow. By embracing your near wins, you align yourself with a mindset of continuous improvement and lifelong learning.
You can watch Lewis’ TED Talk here.
2. Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey, as recounted in her 2014 TED Talk “Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating,” is a profound exploration of the emotional landscapes shaped by both success and failure.
Gilbert, best known for her bestselling book “Eat, Pray, Love,” delves into the complexities of how success can be as disorienting as failure, offering a raw and honest perspective on the creative process and the importance of staying true to one’s passion.
Gilbert begins her talk with a humorous anecdote about being recognized for “Eat, Pray, Love,” setting the stage for a deeper discussion on the aftermath of success. She describes the daunting task of writing a follow-up book, knowing it would be impossible to please everyone. This predicament led her to a significant realization: the importance of writing for the sake of creation itself rather than for the outcome.
“I had to find a way to make sure that my creativity survived its own success.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert takes us back to her early days as an unpublished diner waitress, a time filled with rejection and self-doubt. Despite the constant setbacks, she found solace and purpose in writing. This period taught her a crucial lesson: her love for writing was greater than her fear of failure. She states, “I loved writing more than I loved my own ego.” This mindset was what propelled her through the darkest times and what she later relied on after her success.
- Actionable Tip: identify what you love more than yourself, make that your home, and anchor yourself in it. When faced with the extremes of success or failure, remind yourself of this foundation. It’s not about the accolades or the setbacks; it’s about the devotion to what you truly love. This grounding force is what will keep you balanced and focused, no matter what life throws your way.
You can watch Gilbert’s TED Talk here.
3. The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure (Astro Teller)
Astro Teller’s 2016 TED Talk, “The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure,” offers a fascinating glimpse into the culture of X (formerly Google X), a place he describes as a ‘moonshot factory.’
Teller’s insights provide valuable lessons on how embracing failure can drive innovation and lead to extraordinary achievements.
Teller begins by describing the unconventional atmosphere at X, where an aerospace engineer might collaborate with a fashion designer. This diversity fosters an environment where radical ideas are not just encouraged but expected. The key to their approach is to tackle the hardest parts of a problem first, actively seeking to ‘kill’ their projects early on.
“We’ve got this interesting balance going where we allow our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions. But then we also harness enthusiastic skepticism to breathe life, breathe reality into those visions.” – Astro Teller
One of the most compelling aspects of Teller’s talk is the balance between “unchecked optimism” and “enthusiastic skepticism.” This approach allows the team at X to dream big and remain grounded in reality.
They celebrate the process of learning through failure, which is a radical departure from the norm in most organizations. As Teller puts it, “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong.”
- Actionable Tip: Create an environment where failure is not just accepted but is seen as a valuable part of the learning process. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking, and when failures occur, focus on the lessons learned rather than the setbacks. This approach can lead to a more innovative, resilient, and dynamic team or individual.
You can watch Teller’s TED Talk here.
What Are Marketers Doing in 2024? [Budgets, Platforms, and AI]
There’s one topic dominating the marketing sphere: artificial intelligence (AI). And many marketers are hopping on board the AI train. Aside from AI, what other strategies are marketers investing in? Plus, what are their plans for achieving their marketing goals in 2024?
Sagefrog released its 2024 Marketing Mix report. They surveyed various professionals across different niches and received 2,400 responses. According to 48% of the participants, they will increase their marketing budgets. Most marketers will focus their efforts on event, direct, and content marketing.
Meanwhile, Canto reveals that marketers aim to increase content volume rather than raise their budget in 2024. Plus, here are the top five current challenges with the content creation process:
- Keeping up with the increasing demand for multiple channels
- Allocating budget and resources
- Aligning teams for better collaboration and workflows
- Locating and accessing assets
- Maintaining brand consistency
Marketers can leverage various channels to promote their business and cast a wider net to entice a new audience. For instance, WARC also published their survey (The Voice of the Marketer 2024) on which platforms marketers will invest in 2024. YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are their top three platforms to post more content on.
Another survey that marketers participated in was Mediaocean’s “The Mediaocean Current: The 2024 Advertising Outlook.” Marketers for this survey will increase advertising investment on social media platforms, digital display and video, and connected TV.
AI and Marketing
Over 300+ marketers participated in Foundation Inc.’s report: “The State of AI Marketing.” Most marketers use AI in the workplace and for content creation. Despite adopting AI for content creation, these marketers believe that AI-generated content is worse compared to content created by humans. Plus, the marketers think it’s moderately useful to their job.
Kaltura has also provided another survey on AI use in marketing. Marketers in their study said they will increase AI usage in 2024. At the time of the survey, 88% had experimented with AI and 69% had subscribed to an AI tool. Like the previous study, marketers aren’t still completely satisfied with AI use. For instance, their top three reasons for not using AI are:
- Data security
- Integration with current systems
- Ethical and privacy issues
Besides that, they’re also not impressed with AI’s tone of voice, quality of generated content, and committing SEO penalties.
Effective Marketing Strategies
Now that you have the pulse on the latest marketing trends learn which strategies are effective in driving your marketing goals in 2024.
Hubspot reports that these are the top five trends that create an impact:
- Short-form videos
- Content presenting brand values
- Influencer marketing campaigns
- Social media selling
- Mobile-friendly website
If you want to capture your audience’s attention in a few seconds, short-form videos must be added to your content calendar. The content is up to you, but make sure that it’s edited properly and published on various platforms to reach more audiences. You could hire an actor to represent your brand. Or, you can use animation to make it even more compelling. But if you don’t have an editor on board but want to try videos, you can use AI-powered video editors to convert your written content.
Content Presenting Brand Values
If you want to connect with your audience and vice versa, you need to be transparent with your brand values. Authenticity brings you closer to your audience. One way you can go about this is by publishing a blog post about the purpose of your brand or business. Another example could be presenting your authentic brand through videos. Employees can be your “actors” and show how they interact with customers and exemplify your values through customer service and communication.
Influencer Marketing Campaigns
You can never go wrong by reaching out to influencers to introduce your brand to a whole new audience. Ensure that you find the best influencers to include in your marketing campaigns. The best way to find influencers without browsing manually is by using an influencer marketing platform. This helps you find the best influencer for your niche.
Social Media Selling
Dedicate some time to promote your products or services on social media through social selling. Social selling can entice followers and your target audience to watch your livestream. A new audience can learn more about your products while loyal customers get the latest updates, exclusive products, or service discounts!
This one’s easy to do with a web developer on board. After all, many internet users use their smartphones to browse and shop. Optimizing your website for mobile will enhance user experience. In turn, it will lead them to browse your website without a hitch. Additionally, if you have an optimized mobile website, this allows users to purchase without having to switch to another device.
Now that you’ve seen what marketers will be up to in 2024, the question is, should you do what other marketers are doing in 2024? On the one hand, you’d like to follow their strategies since theirs have worked in the past and are replicating or yielding better results. On the other hand, you might prefer doing what could work for your business and adjusting strategies.
King of Couture: How Bernard Arnault Turns Everything into Gold
The world of couture is one of opulence and decadence, and it is ruled by a king who built a global empire from the world’s finest threads and most luxurious fragrances. We’ve heard about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but most of us are unaware of Bernard Arnault, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Let’s learn about this modern-day King Midas and billionaire saga.
Born in Roubaix, France, in 1949, Bernard Arnault was one of the five children of Jean Arnault and Marie-Josèphe. He grew up in a middle-class household, thanks to the engineering company his father owns. At 18, he moved to Paris, where he studied civil engineering and graduated with honors. During this time, he was able to visit famous fashion houses, developing an interest in the luxury goods niche.
After graduation, Arnault returned home to work for his father’s construction business. His business savvy enabled him to turn the business into a success. From this, he gained enough money to invest in the stock market and branch out to found his own investment company, Groupe Arnault. Through this, he started acquiring stakes in many other companies, including luxury spirits company Moët Hennessy and fashion brand Louis Vuitton.
Bernard Arnault’s acquisition of the two companies led to its merger to become LVMH. Before the end of the 1980s, LVMH became one of the world’s top luxury goods brands. He became chair and CEO in 1989 and has since held these positions.
Under Bernard’s leadership, LVMH became the owner of a wide array of high-end brands: Christian Lacroix, Loewe, Givenchy, Céline, the DFS group, and Sephora, to name a few. The company owns many more household name brands in more than 70 countries. This success made Bernard one of the world’s wealthiest men and one of the most influential in the fashion industry.
Expanding His Kingdom
These key tactics summarize Bernard Arnault’s business expansion strategy:
1. Strategic Acquisitions: Arnault’s acquisitions of iconic brands across various sectors have made him master the deal, strengthening LVMH’s foothold in the industry. We can find its reach in the following:
- Fashion: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Fendi, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Celine, and Stella McCartney
- Watches and Jewelry: Bulgari,Tag Heuer, Zenith, and Chaumet
- Wine and Spirits: Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, and Krug
2. Building Synergies: Arnault’s acquisitions do not end there, he integrates them within LVMH. It uses synergies across divisions for shared resources, cross-brand collaborations, and leveraging brand prestige.
3. Empowering Brand Identity: Arnault respects the individual heritage and identities of all the brands he acquires. He knows that each brand has a unique character that has its own specific audience. Thus, he maintains each brand’s creative autonomy and artistic direction to ensure authenticity and quality.
4. Innovation and Craftsmanship Focus: Arnault invests in research and development to make sure that each brand is innovative. He also greatly values traditional craftsmanship to maintain each brand’s highest quality standards.
5. Global Expansion: Arnault’s recognition of the emerging economies in Asia and its growing luxury market enabled him to aggressively expand LVMH’s presence through store openings, partnerships, and customized marketing campaigns.
6. Communication and Marketing: Arnault understands the power of storytelling and developing a strong brand image. He believes in using targeted marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and hosting exclusive events to create a desire and exclusivity for LVMH brands.
7. Long-Term Vision: Arnault looks to the future with LVMH by always looking for new growth opportunities without compromising the company’s core values.
Bernard Arnault’s Net Worth
With a net worth of $162 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it would seem that Arnault has that Midas touch. He has this knack of turning everything he touches into gold. Struggling brands were revitalized into lucrative powerhouses. Brand names such as Dior, Dom Pérignon, and Givenchy rose in value and popularity thanks to this King’s guidance.
With a stellar orchestration of ambition, strategic mastery, and speaking the exquisite language of luxury, Bernard Arnault is truly a King. He built his kingdom by spinning gold from the threads of fashion, champagne, and expert craftsmanship. His relentless innovation and respect for heritage have him etched his name in the luxury industry.