Victoria’s Secret is losing a major chunk of its buyer base and it’s all because American Eagle’s Aerie lingerie line has refused to photoshop models and focuses on positive body image for all women.
While Victoria’s Secret has focused on ads such as “The Perfect Body” while refusing to work with plus-size models, Aerie ditched photoshop more than one year ago and their ads feature messages such as “The Girl In This Photo Has NOT Been Retouched / The Real You Is Sexy.”
“We left beauty marks; we left tattoos — what you see is really what you get with our campaign,” brand representative Jenny Altman told Good Morning America last year.
How successful is the campaign? Aerie’s sales have increased by 9% year-over-year and the American Eagle Outfitters has reported a very strong Q1 2015.
University of Southern California Jeetendr Sehdev told Business Insider, “We have seen the backlash. Those perfect bodies are not even the bodies of the Angels. And people know that now … people are fully aware, consciously or subconsciously, whether they are looking at a Photoshopped image.”
“What consumers [are looking for] today more than anything else is meaning,” he said. “And meaning is going to come from relatability — ‘can I really relate to this brand? Can I derive enough meaning out of this that it’s going to be good for me to engage and pay a premium?”
This is what an Aerie ad looks like:
And this is a typical Victoria’s Secret ad:
With Victoria’s Secret refusing to carry plus-sized underwear and a growing number of plus-sized women in the United States, Aerie may have struck a chord that its competitor could spend years attempting to understand before possibly reversing course. At the same time, Victoria’s Secret could find itself developing an even more loyal customer base among its clients who find the company’s smaller sized lingerie to be a sign of exclusivity among skinnier women.