HONG KONG — Victoria’s Secret unleashed its lingerie marketing blitz onto the streets here this week brought by its “Angels,” Josephine Skriver and Martha Hunt, to generate buzz around the opening of its flagship in the city.
While the brand has been selling its fragrance and cosmetics in Hong Kong for some time, and last year made a big splash into mainland China moving its famed runway event to Shanghai, the 50,000-square-foot store located in the center of Causeway Bay is its first full assortment boutique with undergarments for sale in Hong Kong.
In the lead-up to the models’ arrival, the brand fueled the anticipation by painting angel wing murals onto various spots around the city, inviting people to pose with it and post it to social media.
During the week, Skriver and Hunt left an Instagram trail of the city’s classic tourist spots posting photos at the Peak and in the harbor aboard the Aqua Luna junk boat. The women snacked on pineapple buns at a cha chaan teng, a quintessential Cantonese treat, and tucked into dim sum at Madame Fu at the newly opened Tai Kwun heritage complex — no doubt drawn to the highly Instagrammable Millennial pink sofas at the chinoiserie chic restaurant, the city’s answer to Sketch in London.
It seemed to work.
Customers were eager to have the chance to try on lingerie products for themselves after getting to know the brand through its annual show, flicking through lilac lace briefs and shiny, slinky slips.
“I watch the shows every year on the Internet” said one twentysomething, holding hands with her boyfriend of four years. “It’s the first time that Victoria’s Secret has sold lingerie in Hong Kong and I want to see what bras there are.”
Will she buy? “The deals are pretty good. I think I’ll buy a few of them so I can see what the brand is like beyond the show, if they fit well and if they’re comfortable.”
The show relocating to China last year, though, didn’t seem to have made a big impression on consumers.
“I learned about this brand three to four years ago from web sites abroad,” one shopper in her late 20s said. While she knew about the shows, it was a surprise to her that last year’s had taken place in Shanghai.
At the store, the two Angels served up the usual rah-rah platitudes about strong, sexy women the brand has staked its business on, but has struggled to evolve past.
“I think sexiness is all about women’s empowerment, women’s control,” said Hunt. “She has a choice over her own body, how she wants to present herself.”
Skriver similarly enthused, “It’s amazing being part of this brand that stands for strong, powerful women. I see my fellow angels and they’re moms, they’re businesswomen, they’re all of these amazing things and the brand supports and celebrates that.”
While declines in the Pink business dragged down the company’s latest set of earnings overall, the collection’s cutesy, tamer aspects seemed to be the most popular among Hong Kong customers, sales floor staff said.
“When we first came in we went upstairs but it was all lingerie,” one customer said. “We were actually trying to find the Pink clothing line so I came downstairs. A lot of YouTubers and beauty gurus are like, ‘oh, I got this from Victoria’s Secret Pink line.’ So I came here for that.”