Today in We’re Not Sure How We Feel About This news: Top underwear brand Victoria’s Secret, in an apparent attempt to expand upon the runaway success of its “collegiate” brand Pink, wants to tailor more of its marketing efforts to the middle-school-aged “tween” crowd.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, which ran the story under the provocative headline “Forget training bras. Girls are buying lingerie”, the demand for “intimate apparel” among young girls continues to grow because, in the words of Victoria’s parent brand Limited’s CFO, these tweens all “want to be older…they want to be cool like the girl in college”. Relevant retailers are scrambling to make the most of it: For example, a quick visit to tween retail giant Justice‘s website reveals collections of bras and panties by a brand that defines its own target audience as girls aged 7 to 12.
Pink hasn’t unveiled any products specifically designed for 12-year-olds, but its decision to hire Justin Bieber for the Pink segment of last year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is sufficient evidence of the brand’s desire to reach younger audiences with its combination of brightly colored sweatpants and underwear. While the company names its target consumer as a 15 or 16-year-old girl, some younger women will clearly be drawn in by the campaigns.
That’s not to say this is necessarily a bad thing, but when courting this demographic brands clearly need to locate a safe spot between “cute” kids campaigns and blatantly sexualized ads targeting younger consumers. The Pink brand, for example, has already created some problems for Victoria’s Secret. The company succeeded, in large part, by making its own name synonymous with “sexy”, and when various news reports highlighted the fact that many pre-teen girls like the Pink brand, VS reps had to insist repeatedly that Limited Brands never planned to market its new lines to 11-year-olds.
The all-important “mommy blogger” demographic appears to have mixed feelings about this trend. A blogger at Cafe Mom, for example, writes that she has “no problem” with the prospect of her tween shopping at Victoria’s Secret as long as the product lines in question don’t involve lacy bras or g-strings.
What do we think? Is this a potential PR controversy for Victoria’s Secret or a case of misplaced outrage?