OK, now they’ve really done it! It was bad enough when Playboy magazine swore off running NUDE photos in their publication, but now Victoria’s Secret is discontinuing mailing out its iconic catalog, and will only direct market its compelling lingerie merchandise online . Oh sure, even though the company’s sales are good, the maneuver is touted as an expense saving tactic, and one that aligns more closely with today’s shopping behaviors.
Maybe that’s true for the great majority of their older, sorta “adult” customers who actually buy this stuff, but what about the young pubescent adolescents only beginning to form their own brand recognition, and appreciation of the female form and lingerie draping of it?
No Cisco, I realize that 350 million hard copy catalogs and postage for 22 mailings a year can get a little pricey, BUT ….aside from what might be a negative impact on the Victoria’s Secret brand among their actual paying/shopping customers (see below):
In a research note entitled, “Every Guy’s Worst Nightmare,” Citi retail analysts estimated the company would save about $100 million by eliminating the catalogs, but worried the move would hurt sales “as the brand may be less top of mind with male and female customers long-term.”
What about the the little teenage and below boys that use the hard copy piece (excuse the unintentional play on words) for relief and practice behind closed doors in their rooms or bathrooms? You all know what I’m referring to.
Philip Roth’s 1969 novel, “Portnoy’s Complaint”, pulled the metaphorical shower curtain back on what little boys were doing in the bathroom or elsewhere with mom’s Sears catalog or dad’s stash of True Detective magazines or National Geographic’s latest coverage of topless Borneo natives. I’ll never forget the perfectly descriptive “bent over my flying fist” imagery from the book.
Well, with the arrival on the scene of Victoria’s Secret catalog in the 90’s, the “bent over” operation was ratcheted up several levels. Now, young males had breathtakingly beautiful women attired in stunning and dramatic costumes, posed in alluring (to say the least) poses. What was not to like?
The short answer was/is nothing. Nothing not to like. And something to mentally (and physically) “use.” But that’s all gone now. A mobile phone or tablet device is just not the same, and cannot be comfortably held on one’s lap while other procedures are being performed.
So I’m predicting that very young males love affair with Victoria’s Secret is going to suffer a bit. And, ultimately, along with less active connection to their lingerie offering, brand interest and connection may lessen.
So I hope VS’s management put that into their long term brand allegiance model. Yes, the world is going digital and mobile, but some things for some audiences were perhaps better served by nice glossy printed pages. We’ll see.