By  on November 17, 2004

It’s up to the beholder whether Victoria’s Secret is sensual or seamy, titillating or tasteless.

So what’s the view from inside the rapidly growing $4 billion brand?

“We will always walk that fine line,” said Victoria’s Secret Direct president and chief executive officer Sharen Jester Turney. “We must stay on the edge…always defining what is next in terms of [our] core equities — sexy, sophisticated and being forever young.

“What was sexy a few years ago is different from what is sexy today, and it will evolve in the years ahead. Early marketing efforts depicted bony, harsh androgynous women in garter belts and stiletto heels,” she said. “But in the Nineties, feminism discovered pleasure. Women were allowed to be strong, serious and intellectual — and still wear really great lingerie.”

While the “core equities” are a constant, change at Victoria’s Secret, whether it’s cutting-edge or controversial, is critical to the agenda. As Turney sees it, strategies for the future include:

  • Adding third-party brands to the assortment and developing strategic partnerships. “Multiple ideas must come from multiple sources — internal design, external design and third parties. We will never get there if we rely on a single pathway,” Turney said.


  • Finding more ways to interact with customers online, which represents more than half of the VS Direct business. Personal shoppers and personalized fashion shows online are possibilities.


  • Interacting with customers via TV. “The tipping point for interactive TV is not far down the road,” Turney said.


  • Increasing product commercialization capacity by 300 to 500 percent.


  • Maintaining high-volume increases and double-digit margins through trading up and greater segmentation through subbrands such as Body by Victoria for modern and sophisticated looks; Angels, for a more romantic look, and Pink, for a younger spirit.


  • Developing alternative venues for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, now considered a cultural phenomenon.


Turney also said the corporate mind-set is changing. “Today, with our mix of products and how we bring those products to market, we no longer think of ourselves as a retailer…we have evolved to be an upscale packaged goods company that controls its channels of distribution,” Turney said, echoing the words of Leslie H. Wexner, Limited Brands’ chairman and ceo.

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