L brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret, made headlines in 2016 when they decided to discontinue VS swimwear in hopes to simplify operations for the company. Perhaps not coincidentally, L Brands stock ($LB) has fallen about 70% from its all-time highs.
Relaunching the swim line
In March of 2019, L Brands announced they are reviving the beloved swimwear line. Now that they have brought it back, early data indicates that they are reclaiming some market share from Target and other competitors, who had benefitted in the iconic brand's absence.
By tracking Consumer Purchase Intent levels, LikeFolio can quickly see that the Victoria's Secret Swimwear relaunch is successfully underway, although not yet to the levels the company was seeing prior to the hiatus:
Facing stronger competition
While Victoria's Secret was out of the game for a few years, competitors such as Target were quick to pick up the business Victoria's Secret abandoned.
In its absence, VS competitors developed strong swimwear lines at prices designed to attract value-minded shoppers. The prices of Target’s bathing suits range from $13.99-$69.99, while Victoria's Secret suits can run anywhere from $25-$260.
Shown above are two very similar bathing suit tops. One is priced at $19.99 and the other is $46.
What is the difference you may ask? Good question. The only noticeable difference comes in the price tag. The green one is $19.99 from Target, while the pink top is selling for $46 at Victoria's Secret.
As Gretchen Wilson says, "Victoria's Secret, well their stuff's real nice, Oh but I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half price."
Facing self-created headwinds
But competition isn't Victoria's Secret's only issue. They are creating plenty of problems on their own...
Insensitive comments by executives
In November 2018, Victoria's Secret received tons of negative backlash after their chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, made insensitive comments towards transgender and plus-size models.
The brand now faces a perception that it is only catering to a specific beauty type while failing to acknowledge the changes in consumer culture and social views. This could be further isolating them from their once loyal consumer base.
Consumers unimpressed with the product relaunch
In 2019, LikeFolio's measure of consumer happiness has held steady in the low-80's. The day the new swim line was released, sentiment sank to 51 percent happiness.
What was the cause of this drop?
Our analysis confirms the 2019 swim launch was perceived by consumers as "expensive", "costly" and "over-priced" significantly more than in previous years. This line launch perception differed greatly from previous years, as you can see via the massive drop in consumer happiness in the chart below:
While we are seeing some positive chatter about the line coming back, we also see more and more people talking about its competitors, people opting for lower prices, and young shoppers following Instagram influencers marketing other brands.
The future may depend on swim
Victoria's Secret's swim line was a very popular division, and was a major magnet attracting people into the physical store. That's no easy task in a world that has all but abandoned the mall.
By relaunching swim, Victoria's Secret hopes that the foot traffic will return, leading to increased purchases of their other products and a resurgence of this once dominant brand.
New trends and influences are constantly switching up, so it’s key for Victoria's Secret to get themselves back ahead of the curve. By reintroducing swimwear, Victoria's Secret has a chance to remain relevant and regain the brand prowess that they so carelessly tossed away... but according to Consumer Insights from LikeFolio, the company still has a long way to go from here.