The world is changing due to changes brought about by technology. Business environment is increasingly getting competitive. Firms are finding it difficult to manage this competition due to a number of factors. According to Kate (78), it is practically impossible to find the best strategy that would last a lifetime without a need for regular adjustment.
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The ability of a firm to adjust to changes within the environment will always determine its success or failure within that market. Coming up with the right strategy should always be followed by swift implementation in order to achieve the desired result. Marketing planning can be a very challenging task, especially in a market with varying characteristics. The planning will also depend on the size of the firm and the product offered to the market. This is the type of challenge Victoria’s Secret faces in the market for lingerie.
The approach used in marketing this product is the United States may not be the same as the approach needed in the British markets. When developing a marketing plan, it is always important that the concerned individuals understand the nature of the product and the target customers. As Klasse (87) state, marketing planning and strategy development should not be left to the marketing department alone.
Success in this planning will benefit the entire firm. Organizational structure clearly stipulates people responsible for making various decisions at various levels. However, it should be appreciated that all members of the organization, irrespective of their position within the firm, have a role to play.
They can help come up with strategies that are able to meet the demands of the market. The research will be based on Victoria’s Secret, which has had massive success for the past one decade. This research focuses on analysis of various strategies that can help a firm succeed in the market and how the implementation should be conducted, including the relevance using the image of women in advertising.
Purpose and scope
The world market in the finance industry has become very competitive. Various firms have come to the realization that internationalization is the best way through which they can succeed in the market. For this to be possible, it is important that the management develop strategies that would help it in the international market. In the world of advertising, the use of image of women is very common.
This is because of the perception of the society towards women. There has been a general perception among the society that women have spectacular image while men are the spectators. Anything that is appealing to the eye is always associated to women. According to Poole (56), an angel is believed to be the most beautiful being, and its beauty can only be compared to that of women. In the marketing arena, this message has sunk, and most firms prefer using the image of women to help advertise their product.
A top model car would be advertised using a model whose image is believed to present the beauty of the product on advertisement. There has been a movement in various western countries, which is against using the image of a woman in advertising. To this group, this is an act of discrimination against women, and the practice should not be tolerated in the current 21st century. This means that marketers would always find themselves at cross roads.
This is because the female image remains the best image to use when advertising. On the other hand, these firms are struggling to ensure that they are not seen to be using the image of women in an inappropriate manner. The situation can be worse if the firm is dealing in products that would demand the image of a woman in a manner that a fraction of the society finds indecent. This is the situation that Victoria’s Secret found itself following its advertisement of sexy little geisha. This would be the focus of this paper.
Strategies Used by Victoria’s Secret in Promoting Sales of its Products
Victoria’s Secret is one of the leading US lingerie shop that was started in June 1972. When started, the management of this firm was focused on the local market in the United States. However, this firm has been expanding ever since, and there has been an urge to venture into the global markets.
The firm has made successful entry into selected European countries, Canada and some states in North America. As this was taking place, not all was getting easy for this firm. There were other multinational apparel firms that were developing and finding their way into the markets Victoria’s Secret had considered exclusively its. The level of competition was getting higher, especially with the entry of various apparel shops and several designers into this market.
Victoria’s Secret had to come up with measures that could help it counter this challenge. The firm has to develop measures that would ensure that it remained competitive in the United States, in the European markets and other markets in North America. The strategy was to be developed, and the sooner it came, the better it would serve the firm.
Victoria’s Secret came up with a secret that would help them increase their sales in the market. In this new strategy (secret), the marketing team decided to increase the number of influx into the firm’s stores through a strategy that many firms had never thought of. The firm decided to give out several items free to various customers who were staying near enough to their stores.
The strategy to give out free sample to their customers came out of a research that confirmed three most important facts behind their secret. The first fact is that human, by nature, like free items despite the value of the item. When one is offered a free item by an outlet considered classy, they would make an effort to go for it even if they are rich. The second point is that most sales in various retail shops are always due to impulse buying.
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An individual would set aside 50 dollars to make a simple shopping. However, when the individual comes across attractive items in the shop, he or she would end up spending 150 dollars. This impulse buying is always motivated by the sense of sight.
The third fact is that there are a large section of the middle class who believe that such shops as Victoria’s Secret price their products too expensively that they are not in a position to make a purchase. They therefore refrain from such shops even without making attempts. The strategy was therefore, meant to attract people to the stores of this firm. The free samples came in different categories as identified below.
Offering free panties was one of the most popular strategies. The firm would advertise through various media channel that at specific time, they would be offering free panties to the customers who will visit the shop. With this announcement, customers would come to the shop to take the gifts that the firm offers.
During this process, two things will take place. First, those who come to the shop will engage in impulse buying. This is because pro to customers visit the management would ensure that there is a proper arrangement of other products on sale in a very attractive manner.
They will take their free panty, which may be worth 11 dollars, and buy items that would earn this firm a profit of about 100 dollars. Besides this instant profit, the spectacular nature of the store, and the appealing display of the products would easily turn these visitors into loyal customers.
Those who will not be in a position to buy an item during the visit would be convinced that the shop stocks products that meets and even surpasses their expectations. They would seriously consider making a visit to the store to make a purchase of a product that he or she considered as appropriate.
Another strategy would be offering customers limited time coupons. In this strategy, the firm would offer its customers discount of up to 12 percent of their purchase. This would especially be on the products that are considered sources of income of the firm. This is always the pink panties, which is the main product of this firm. The firm will offer the discount, but in a manner that may not bring losses to the firm.
The secret behind this strategy is that when offered a discounted product, a customer will always form an attachment with the company. They will feel obliged to make the shop their preferred shop within the locality. This will in turn, increase the market share of this firm within this industry.
Another strategy that this firm uses is bargain sales during selected times within the year. In this strategy, the firm would allow all its customers to engage in bargains on all the products that are on sale (Klasse 38). This practice is unheard of in major apparel shops in this country.
In most of these shops, the price is always set and placed on tags on the item and a customer is to determine if he or she has the capacity to buy the product. This offer, though not very frequent, offers customers of this firm a rare opportunity to engage in bargaining for the products they purchase. They end up purchasing the product at discounted prices during such periods.
Another popular strategy that this firm uses is incremental incentives. In this strategy, the firm would offer its customers an increased incentive based on the value of their purchase. When purchasing a product that is worth 50 dollars, the customers would be offered a discount of 5 dollars.
If these customers made a purchase of a product worth 100 dollars, the discount would be 12 dollars. If the purchase were worth 200 dollars, the discount would be 25 dollars. This would motivate employees to make a purchase worth higher values in order to increase their benefit. The secret behind this strategy is to increase the rate of stock turnover.
Although the profit margin will be massively reduced when one makes huge purchase, the large volume of sales will compensate the small margin of the profit. The increased sales of the products would give this firm an edge over others. This strategy is also meant to counter the force of the competitors. Some competitors would always avoid any incident that may demonstrate that there is a price war in the market.
The above four strategies have pushed up the sales of this firm. The firm has been in a position to expand its market share within the local and international markets. It is one of the most preferred apparel shops in the United States and British markets. The management has been able to develop a close bond between the firm and its customers through best practice. One of the leading policies has always been to ensure that it keeps the sales volume high.
Sexy Little Geisha
In the process introducing new product in the market, many firms always try to capture the attention of customers using means that would pass the intended message in the best way possible. They always try to make an impact in a way that will make the market notice its presence within the shortest time possible, and with the desired impact. This is what Victoria’s secret expected when it introduced Sexy Little Geisha into the American and European markets. The picture below was used to introduce this product.
‘Sexy Little Geisha’
The above lingerie, dubbed Go East, was expected to hit the market with a bang. Klasse says,
“Sexy Little Geisha, an Asian-inspired getup from Victoria’s Secret’s Go East collection, includes a mesh bodysuit with floral patterns on the bra cups and crotch, a tiny floral fan, a removable obi belt, and matching chopsticks with tassels,” (Klasse 1).
This product was perfect for the market, especially for the holidaymakers in the United States and Europe. However, the marketing management did not give a deeper though its market proposition when it finally brought it to the market. The product was marketed for its sexual appeal.
The marketing team was convinced that this was the best way to introduce this product to the market. According to Foston (82), this was not a bad approach to market this product. This scholar holds that all lingerie products are always designed and marketed as products that would make the woman sexually appealing. This scholar says that this would be appealing in the eye of men, and as is always the norm, women would always like to be appealing in the face of men. This is especially the case when it comes to the lingerie.
The mistake that the marketing team of this firm did was to state that the lingerie would offer the wearer sexual satisfaction that is not properly found in the west. That is why the product credo was Go East, where it is generally believed that women offer sexual satisfaction to men. It is common to use sexual appeal in marketing arena. In fact, Kate (29) says that it is becoming common in many industries in the cotemporary world.
However, the message that came out was completely upsetting. There is a general belief that men for their sexual fantasies use Asian women. When this product said lets go east in reference to the need to be more appealing, there were various market segments that felt seriously offended by the move.
The American and European women considered this message offensive because to them, the message that was being passed is that women are sexual objects (Jennings 45). They seriously took offense with the product and the company and therefore, boycotted the product. The message also offended the Asian women. They were not happy with the fact that to the firm, Asia women are sexual objects used by men for their own satisfaction.
This incident raised a lot of controversy and the management had to act with speed and ensure that this issue was solved immediately. The management was forced to recall the advert in less than one week after its introduction. The product was also modified and brought back to the market with different specification. Although the firm was able to overcome this challenge, it hurt its market penetration.
Challenges Faced when Advertising Lingerie
Advertising lingerie poses a serious challenge to firms in this industry for a number of reasons. Just as any other product in the market, the best way of advertising lingerie is by giving an image of someone wearing it. In this case, it would require the advertiser to show how beautiful the lingerie can be on the body. This is always very challenging, especially when the society is reserved. The lingerie would be viewed as a garment that should be private. Some societies may find such an advertisement as the one shown below as an offensive, especially given the fact that the woman is considered to be revealing a lot more than should be revealed.
The above model is advertising lingerie that has just arrived in the market. While a section of the market may consider the product too revealing, another section will consider it inappropriate because it does not reveal the design of the panty fully. They would therefore prefer an advert as this shown below.
The challenge therefore, comes when the other section now considers such an advert as the one below as being too revealing or even immoral in the face of the society. The firm will be struggling to come up with a compromise between these two divides.
The above advert may not be welcome in various societies due to the level of nudity it demonstrates. However, Beatty (119) says that the most important factor that a firm should consider is the appropriateness of the advert based on the target market. This is what Victoria’s Secret has been keen on.
Victoria’s Secret is one of the most prosperous apparel shops in the United States and the European markets. The firm has been keen on attracting the market using various strategies. One of the biggest secret that this firm has been keen to employ is the need to keep people flowing into their stores. They use every means at their disposal to ensure that people visit the store for they are sure that from the visit, there will be sales.
Beatty, Jeffrey. Business Law and the Legal Environment. Mason: Thomson, 2007. Print.
Daniel. A Walk in Victoria’s Secret: Poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010. Print.
Foston, Smith. Victoria’s Secret: A Conspiracy of Silence. Sacramento: Victoria Lazarian Heritage Association, 2001. Print.
Jennings, Marianne. Business: Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Kate, Klasse, Anna. ‘Sexy Little Geisha’ & More Victoria’s Secret Controversies.’ The Daily Beast, Sep 26, 2012.
Poole, Jason. Victoria’s Secret: A Novel. Owings Mills: Cartel Publications, 2008. Print..