Why did Victoria's Secret Fashion Show move to China?

Updated 2017-11-20 10:03:12 CGTN
Victoria's Secret models pose for a photo during the 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show's model group appearance event in Shanghai, Nov. 18, 2017. (Photo: China News Service/Zhang Hengwei)

Victoria's Secret models pose for a photo during the 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show's model group appearance event in Shanghai, Nov. 18, 2017. (Photo: China News Service/Zhang Hengwei)

The annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has been held almost exclusively in the US except for shows in London and Paris in 2015 and 2016 respectively. When it was announced that this year's event would be coming to China, many wondered why.

At the time, Victoria's Secret did not even have a physical retail shop in the country, just concept stores that only sold the lingerie maker's accessories.

Location! Location! Location!

In February, the brand opened a flagship store in Shanghai, followed by one in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Bringing fashion's biggest night to China was what many industry analysts would consider a smart business move by Victoria's Secret.

"It's good there is a store," shopper Ivy Wan told CGTN Digital outside the Shanghai branch. "I've been several times."

The 1,860-square-meter store opened in a prime central business district location, making a big statement.

"I think it will announce our arrival in China in a very significant way, and should be the beginning of an enormous business for us," Martin Waters, president of Victoria's Secret parent company L Brands International, told Reuters.

A statement indeed, considering the fact that the high-profile show has a record number of Chinese models in the lineup this year and its move to Shanghai comes just months after the brand opened that massive flagship store there.

But who can fault the lingerie maker for following the golden rule of real estate – location?

China's lingerie boom

According to Euromonitor, China's women's underwear market is expected to have a retail value of 25 billion US dollars this year – double that of the United States – and will grow to 33 billion by 2020. Victoria's Secret is making sure it cashes in on the growth. The flagship store and the fashion show are part of the brand's growing footprint in the region.

But while the global brand's established marketing strategy might work famously in the West, China presents a whole new challenge with different variables from cultural appropriations to how will these moves impact sales.

Consumer confidence

Until the final sales earnings are in, Victoria's Secret is counting on brand recognition to woo customers in China.

"I think it's great how Victoria's Secret is using models from all around the world in their show," Shanghai teen Danica Titze told CGTN Digital. "It shows people who look like us."

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