Only one out of 5 women prioritize 'sexiness' when bra shopping - and it reveals a giant problem for Victoria's Secret

Victoria's SecretBusiness Insider/Mary Hanbury

  • Victoria's Secret is losing relevancy with customers, according to a new survey from Cowen & Co.
  • More than half of Victoria's Secret shoppers (51%) said in a recent survey that the lingerie brand stands for "sexiness."
  • Just 17% of shoppers identified "sexiness" as their top priority when bra shopping. More important priorities included comfort, fit, and quality.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Victoria's Secret is losing relevancy with its customers, according to a new survey from Cowen & Co.

The Wall Street firm asked nearly 200 Victoria's Secret shoppers what the lingerie brand stands for, and more than half of customers' replies highlighted "sexiness."

But only 17% of those customers said "sexiness" is their top priority when shopping for bras and underwear. In fact, customers ranked sexiness fourth behind comfort, fit, and quality in terms of their priorities.

That disconnect is creating problems for Victoria's Secret, according to Cowen & Co. managing director Oliver Chen.

"We think the legacy messaging is not resonating with customers, and Victoria's Secret needs to shift both messaging and assortment toward prioritizing all body types and sizes," Chen wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. "This is not a quick or easy fix."

Read more: Victoria's Secret will no longer air its iconic annual fashion show on network TV as it rethinks 'literally everything' about its business

Victoria's Secret did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When asked how Victoria's Secret could improve its shopping experience or products, several customers said the company should sell larger sizes and feature more plus-size models.

"VS needs to have more inclusive models and sizing. It really caters for smaller women and the models don't really represent modern women," one customer responded.

Another said: "More fits, bring back the old swim line!"

When asked what the company stands for, one customer said, "overpriced bras to make people who don't have the perfect body feel bad about themselves."

Another said, "Sexy, young, and feminine. Mainstream and cool. Almost a coming-of-age brand for women."

Victoria's Secret recently revealed that it is rethinking its iconic fashion show, which has been airing on network television since 1999, as it battles falling sales and claims of slipping quality.

The company said in February that it planned to close 53 stores in North America this year, citing a "decline in performance." Victoria's Secret's same-store sales dropped 3% during the holiday quarter.

To reconnect with customers, Victoria's Secret needs to reprioritize fit, comfort, and sizing, and close some stores while investing in others, according to the Cowen & Co. report.

"We think that the Victoria's Secret North American footprint of 1,143 stores is unwieldy, and is constraining levels of service and investment within the store," Chen wrote. "Customers feedback supports this view as store layout [and] in-store experience was the third most common reply on how Victoria's Secret could improve the shopping experience."

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