- American Eagle’s Aerie brand reported record same-store sales growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, marking its 16th consecutive quarter of positive growth.
- Competitor Victoria’s Secret reported a 1% increase in same-store sales and on its e-commerce platform during the first quarter of 2018, but sales fell 5% from a store-only perspective.
- Aerie has doubled down on its efforts to promote female empowerment, and this seems to be resonating well with customers.
- Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret’s customers are complaining on Facebook that its ads, which feature scantily dressed models, are targeted more towards men than women.
- We visited the two stores to see how their ad campaigns differ.
“Aerie is simply on fire,” Jennifer Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president, said in a call with investors on Thursday morning.
“We have only just begun,” she added, stating that the goal is now to grow the brand into a $US1 billion business and open between 35 and 40 this year across the United States.
Aerie has doubled down on its efforts to appeal to female shoppers, ditching photoshopped images and partnering with women activists to promote female empowerment. It seems to be resonating well with consumers.
Meanwhile, rival lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has been accused of failing to appeal to customers with its racy ad campaigns, which also threaten to negatively impact its teen-centric brand, Pink. It reported a more modest 1% increase in same-store sales growth for the first quarter of 2018, following negative growth in the previous quarter.
In January, Business Insider reported that mothers of teenagers who shopped at Pink were revolting online because of the oversexualized ads in Victoria’s Secret’s stores.
“It is basically pornography that everyone (children and teens) are subjected to viewing because there is only one area to check out between Pink and Victoria’s Secret, which happens to have the most obscene photos behind the registers,” shopper Jessie Shealy wrote on Victoria’s Secret’s Facebook page.
Pink has become one of the most successful parts of Victoria’s Secret, reporting stronger sales than other parts of the store in recent years.
But it’s not only Pink customers who are being put off by these racy photos. Some Victoria’s Secret customers are also complaining that its ads are targeted more at men than women.
We visited Aerie and Victoria’s Secret in March to see just how extreme the differences are:
We visited two stores in Manhattan’s Soho area. The stores were on the same block and therefore in direction competition with each other.
American Eagle’s Aerie lingerie brand is known for its body-positive ad campaigns using “real” women.
The brand famously doesn’t Photoshop any of the images in its ads. In 2014, it swapped its airbrushed ads for unretouched photos and launched a body-positive campaign known as #AerieReal.
These campaigns are immediately visible in the store.
Images are stamped with captions that say: “No retouching on these girls.”
Female empowerment has become Aerie’s biggest weapon against brands like Victoria’s Secret.
This is hammered home in its apparel offerings, which bear inspirational messages.
The strategy appears to be working: Aerie has seen 16 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth while Victoria’s Secret, whose bread and butter has long been padded bras and sexy ad campaigns, saw negative sales growth for the past year up until the most recent quarter.
In January, Aerie announced it would be partnering with actress-activist Yara Shahidi, gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, and singer-songwriter Rachel Platten to launch its new “role models” campaign.
It’s a very different scene at Victoria’s Secret.
The lingerie is definitely more daring.
Around the store, there are several black-and-white photos of Victoria’s Secret models posing.
In some, women are posing provocatively …
… and it doesn’t seem like they are necessarily targeted at female shoppers.
There is certainly a different tone in this store when compared to Aerie.
One customer commented on this photo on Facebook: “OK, do they want us to buy because this is not how… Is this even FOR women.”
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