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modeling lingerie
Photo Credit: Adore Me

Victoria’s Secret Angles for Adoration with Latest Acquisition

Industry veteran Victoria’s Secret recently announced it will acquire digitally native lingerie brand Adore Me for $400 million. Victoria’s Secret is the world’s largest lingerie specialty retailer, operating 1,350 retail stores globally. Adore Me on the other hand was launched as a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand in 2012 and represents the next generation of lingerie brands. Adore Me was founded on tenets including size inclusivity, digital-first consumer solutions, and sustainability, which largely differ from Victoria’s Secret’s more controversial history as a brand focused on selling an unattainable, sexualized ideal. Read on for our comments on the merits of this brand marriage.

Victoria’s Secret’s Troubling Roots Deter Today’s Consumers

Founded in 1977, Victoria’s Secret once held the undisputed leading position in lingerie. However, its popularity has fallen over the years as consumers have criticized the retailer’s heavy promotion of unrealistic beauty and body standards, especially evident by their long-running Victoria’s Secret Angels’ runway show.

VS runway show

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Recently, Victoria’s Secret has made decisions to align with what today’s consumers are looking for. This includes commendable feminist shifts, such as Victoria’s Secret introduction of period underwear, plus-size models and mannequins, and their selection of soccer star and LGBTQ activist Megan Rapinoe as a brand ambassador.

Photo Credit: WWD

Regardless of these forward steps, this past summer Hulu featured a documentary on Victoria’s Secret that has added more fuel to the retailer’s troubling fires. Even with the company’s continuing efforts to rebrand, consumers are still very aware of its past missteps. Can moves towards greater inclusivity help VS regain the trust of consumers they have lost?

Adore Me is the Next Generation’s Lingerie Brand

Adore Me is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year as a digitally native brand focused on high-quality size-inclusive lingerie. The company currently offers women’s undergarments in 77 sizes, A–I cups, and 30–46 bands. This September, Adore Me officially became a certified B corporation, the only lingerie brand in the United States with this laudable distinction – achieving ambitious standards in aligning People, Planet, and Profits.

Along with their focus on environmental impact and social responsibility, Adore Me also integrates technology into their lingerie shopping experience. In December of last year, the brand launched Adore Me Tech to optimize both back-end procedures and the customer-facing online shopping experience. One way this technology comes to life is via an algorithm-based at-home try-before-you-buy subscription for Adore Me’s customers called Home Try On. Home Try On is a monthly subscription box that costs $39.95 per box and currently serves 1.2 million customers. After trying on, subscribers pay for what they keep with the $39.95 fee going towards their selected items. All in all, the way of shopping is evolving, and Adore Me reflects what today’s consumers are looking for in both brand values and the shopping experience. Importantly, Adore Me’s subscription box offering also helps move forward industry goals to seamlessly speed up the product replacement cycle for lingerie.

subscription box

Photo Credit: Adore Me

A Necessary Step to Reclaim Victoria’s Secret’s Market Dominance

Victoria’s Secret’s acquisition of Adore Me is a logical next step that enables the retailer to demonstrate its recent efforts at reinvention are more than just performative. Over the years, Victoria’s Secret has been losing market share to not only Adore Me but the likes of competitive DTC brands including Parade and ThirdLove and inclusivity-focused youth brands like Aerie. Victoria’s Secret’s efforts to rebrand haven’t been enough to convince customers to ditch their loyalties to their favorite DTC brands, so the acquisition of Adore Me has the potential to regain market power in the lingerie sector and broaden Victoria’s Secret’s target audience.

Both Victoria’s Secret and Adore Me share a common, higher income target customer segment and both will focus on inclusivity, digital innovation, and sustainability moving forward. Plus, Adore Me’s founder and CEO Morgan Hermand will continue to lead the business, providing an assurance of trust to brand loyal consumers who will anticipate Adore Me sticks to its mission as a brand that can inspire Victoria’s Secret’s next steps.

Adore Me also benefits from this relationship as they have a new opportunity to expand their brand reach and resources to expand their channel distribution. Compared to Victoria’s Secret, Adore Me is not yet a household name beyond their younger customer base. As a DTC brand acquired by the world’s largest lingerie retailer, Adore Me has the opportunity reach a broader customer base they can uniquely serve with diverse offerings already well-accepted by an enthusiastic current customer base.

If you enjoyed this article on Victoria’s Secret’s acquisition of Adore Me, please contact us with any questions regarding market expansion strategies as well as ways to better understand the needs of your customers as their preferences evolve. To stay up to date on our latest retail insights, keep up with our blog, check out our Instagram feed and stories, and follow us on LinkedIn.

Lucy Everett

Lucy provides research, planning and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. She also assists with consumer research planning, preparing presentations, and project administration.

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