Sex Sells. But Instagram Sells More.


Eau So Sexy. A total must for spring. #VSBeauty

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Consumer Expectations are Changing.

But does this mean consumer behaviour is changing also? Not necessarily (Jones, 2015). Although word of mouth (WOM) may have previously been just a recommendation from a friend over a cup of coffee, it is now more important than ever. Social media is a driving force of WOM and brands are having to be dynamic in utilising these platforms to meet customer expectations, especially when it comes to staying relevant with millenials (Nadeem, 2015).

Victoria’s Secret (VS) dominated the lingerie segment through the late 90’s and early noughties with the rise of the VS Fashion Show in 1995 and the VS Angels as brand ambassadors. Whilst this marketing made VS a global brand and worked successfully with Generation X, the unattainable body image presented by brand ambassadors and over the top glitz and glamour failed to impress with the millenials. The brand also faced social media backlash through a petition calling for the inclusion of all shapes and sizes in their campaigns and product ranges.  As a result sales have stalled. Add to the mix an increase in competition from more cost effective competitors and the poaching of key designers, VS has had to re-evaluate their marketing strategy to at least maintain their 35% market share in the lingerie market (Lutz, 2015).

So how does VS maintain relevance and drive sales?  VS hopes by shifting the focus of their What is Sexy campaign from predominantly celebrity categories to the inclusion of social media stars, they will broaden the brand’s appeal (Stern, 2016).

Instagram Dominates When it Comes to Influencing Behaviour.


2015 saw Instagram outrank all other social media platforms in terms of driving sales and influencing consumer behaviour, resonating most strongly with female millenials (Nadeem, 2015). Research by Takumi showed that 68% of 18-24 year old’s are more likely to buy something after someone they follow on Instagram shared it.

The rise of social media has enabled marketers to bridge the gap between business and the consumer. Customers now more than ever are able to establish a dialogue and provide direct feedback. If handled correctly by the company, the result is a solidified relationship and a drive in brand loyalty (Ellmerahi, 2015). Although VS has successfully utilised social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to promote the brand, this still wasn’t enough to engage all target markets and drive growth.

Sex Sells When Influencers Reign. 

One of the most powerful utilisations of social media, for both the consumer and the business, is the ability to perpetuate word of mouth recommendations. The consumer’s power stems from the ability to publicly publish product reviews and their experience with the company, be it positive or negative. This has led to companies being more reactive to the voice of customer.  So how have businesses been able to steer the power back from being predominantly consumer driven? Many businesses are successfully harnessing social media “influencers” who post/tweet/blog/vlog about a product on behalf of a company. This has the effect of encouraging their followers to purchase the products/services based on a positive recommendation from a source they admire (Ireton, 2014).

Collaboration with social media stars is an opportunity that has been only minimally explored by VS in the past. With the 2016 What is Sexy campaign, VS increased the number of social star categories, from 1 in 2015, to 3 (fitness, fashion and beauty) in the current campaign. This highlights the increasing role these stars play in influencing consumer behaviour.

VS Angel,  Adriana Lima, with ‘Sexiest Social Star: Fashion’ winner Sonya Esman

Although the winners of these categories have only just been announced, it will be interesting to see how VS collaborate with them over the next 12 months to be able to successfully influence their followers to boost sales and relevance of VS with millenials.


  1. Jones, 2015, Media Consumption has Altered but Consumer Behaviour has Endured,
  2. Lutz, 2015, Victoria’s Secret Needs a New Marketing Strategy,
  3. Cordts, 2015, A Body for Everybody,
  4. Geoff, 2015, Instagram is Now the Most Influential Marketing Platform,
  5. Elmerraji, 2015, Top Ways That Social Media Influences ConsumerBehaviour,
  6. Ireton, 2014, Social Media Marketing Influences Consumer Behaviour,
  7. Stern, 2016, Move Over Angels! Victoria’s Secret Creates Award for the Sexiest Social Media Stars,
  8. Nadeem et al, 2015, Engaging consumers online through websites and social media: a gender study of Italian Generation Y clothing consumers, International Journal of Information Management, pg 432-442


Lyndall Boardman 214418665



One thought on “Sex Sells. But Instagram Sells More.

  1. With the shift of VS from celebrity categories to the inclusion of social media stars, is VS going to abandon the celebrity category?


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