By  on June 20, 2005

Victoria’s Secret doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to cornering a huge share of consumers shopping for intimate apparel.

When asked to pick the one store they shopped most frequently for lingerie, consumers overwhelmingly chose Victoria’s Secret as their specialty destination. The $4.23 billion lingerie giant beat every other store, gaining a 21 percent share, with the exception of Wal-Mart, which garnered a 22 percent share. While Victoria’s Secret’s $1.1 billion e-commerce and catalogue businesses are growing at an estimated 10 percent each year with 403 million clients, it’s the 1,001 specialty stores nationwide that yield the biggest reward of $3.11 billion annually.

The reason: Victoria’s Secret has become a destination spot, a sort of candy store for consumers who know they will find sexy, fashion-forward lingerie in a shopping environment that is entertaining and stimulates impulse purchases. Besides key items such as the highly marketed IPEX Bra, a lightweight microfiber bra, the stores are merchandised with top designer brands fashion-conscious consumers are familiar with, like Dolce & Gabbana, Chantal Thomass and Betsey Johnson Intimates.

The high scores of Victoria’s Secret and Wal-Mart in the lingerie area are no surprise to industry executives. Both retailers address the growing demand for personalized service and a pleasant shopping experience.

Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at Kurt Salmon Associates, observed, “It’s not strange to compare Wal-Mart with Victoria’s Secret. Wal-Mart is a $350 billion company. The sheer volume of customers who walk into its stores is tremendous, and everything Wal-Mart does is customer-oriented and price-sensitive. The environment of Victoria’s Secret is more conducive to fashion-forward consumers, but there’s no question service and product at Victoria’s Secret is at a very high level.”

Regarding the secret behind the innerwear giant’s success, Allan Ellinger, senior managing director at Marketing Management Group, stated plainly, “Victoria’s Secret is just a great store to shop. From a guy’s perspective, it’s safe because the sales staff is knowledgeable; you know you’ll find a gift, and it’s a cool environment.”

Ellen Lewis, sales director for Jacalyn Bennet Lingerie, a company that manufactures private label for Victoria’s Secret, had another take on why the chain is so popular: “Victoria’s Secret makes it a great and entertaining shopping experience. My two daughters have been shopping there ever since they were 15 and 18. I could park them there for eight hours, and they would still be going through items when I’d return from the mall. I even shop there for my basics.”What is the one store where you shop most often for intimate apparel?


INTIMATE APPAREL
Where do you regularly shop for intimate apparel for yourself?
(Pick up to 5 stores)
Discounters50%
Wal-Mart
35%
Target
23%
Kmart
8%
   
Department Stores47%
J.C. Penney
20%
Kohl’s
15%
Macy’s
10%
Sears
8%
Dillard’s
6%
Nordstrom
3%
   
Specialty Stores39%
Victoria’s Secret
29%
Lane Bryant
5%
Frederick’s/H’wood
4%
Old Navy
4%
Gap
2%
American Eagle
1%
Forever 21
1%
Wet Seal
1%
Express
1%
Aeropostale
1%
Hot Topic
1%
Warehouse Clubs 2%
Catalogues1%
TV1%
Other Stores25%

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