Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

August 5, 2021

[CASE STUDY: Victoria’s Secret] How Important is Customer Feedback?

In today’s fast-paced digital market, consumers have SO MANY OPTIONS, and we are no longer buying blind. We read reviews, we leave reviews, and the conversation between brands and their customers has never been more transparent. So today we are asking the question, How Important is Customer Feedback?

Every single dollar that any brand makes is always, always, always directly connected to how well that brand listens. AND the brands that learn to listen the best—the brands who go above and beyond to know their Ideal Individuals the best—those are the brands who win brand loyalty in 2021.

And no matter what amazing business you are building, brand loyalty is your business plan.

When a brand undervalues customer feedback they are leaving money on the table, and it doesn’t take too long before that loss of revenue from lack of listening turns into BIG MONEY. I’m talking like—make you or break your money. To demonstrate this point, let’s take a closer look at one major brand who’s been creating quite a buzz in 2021–but only after spending the past 10 years slipping slowly into oblivion: Victoria’s Secret.

The Three Major Ways Brands Undervalue Customer Feedback.

Number 1: By Brushing Off Bad Reviews

So many brands understand the value of responding quickly and compassionately to bad reviews that get posted online—It shows other potential customers that if something were to go wrong, then your brand is willing to set things right. But that is actually the bare minimum that a brand can do to get the most value from negative feedback. It’s no longer commendable or exceptional for a brand to respond to an unhappy customer with care and offer easy return policies with full refunds and free shipping. That’s not special anymore. It’s the expectation that customers now have of all brands in 2021. Brushing off bad reviews doesn’t mean the brand isn’t responding to complaints—It means they aren’t listening to the concerns of their community by taking noticeable ACTION to remedy the problems at a company-wide level, and instead they are just dealing with the complaints on a case-by-case basis to get them out of the way. Brands that treat bad reviews as ANYTHING other than golden opportunities to get to know their customers better are leaving money on the table.

For YEARS Victoria’s Secret reviews have been terrible. And the complaints are all very similar. Either they are sad and disappointed that their all-time favorite bra is now being made with lesser-quality materials that fall apart quickly, or they are reporting bad experiences with disinterested staff members. And the result has been a steady drop in VS revenue every year for the past ten years.

For a new brand that can’t afford to hemorrhage money and still cling to life like the Victoria’s Secret brand has managed to do, you can actually transform negative reviews into revenue by LISTENING and taking active measures to effect real change within your organization. Every single time your customers speak to your brand, they are offering you an opportunity to secure brand loyalty and win word-of-mouth advertising— But only if you’re a brand that knows how to listen.

Number 2: By Ignoring Cultural Shifts

In 2021, it no longer pays for brands to stay neutral during major cultural shifts. Customer-Brand relationships are far more personal now, with the public forums of open communication and the influx of so many brands who are willing to join the conversation to help amplify their customer’s voices.

The cultural conversation about body positivity and inclusion has changed a lot since Victoria’s Secret launch in 1977. What women want from a lingerie boutique, and what it means to make a woman feel her most beautiful has changed, and Victoria’s Secret hasn’t been listening. Maybe that was her secret all along. She is a terrible listener. Instead, this brand continued to market that women should strive to appeal to male desire with collections like “Very Sexy,” “Dream Angels,” and “Sexy Illusions.” And for years they’ve been unwilling to listen to their own customers— the women—expressing THEIR desire to see a VS Angel strutting down the runway who looks more like they do! Which means anyone larger than a size 4, right? And then 2020 happened, and the pandemic changed the way business is done across every industry.

In 2020, over 250 Victoria Secret’s stores went out of business within the first few months of the pandemic, and the parent company L Brands (owned by Lex Wexler) reported in Feb. of 2021 a 50% decline in revenue from last year. Since then the dying lingerie brand was acquired by a private investment firm for $525M, which is actually just a fraction of what this brand should have been worth had L Brands only listened.

Under this new ownership, it was announced in June of this year that VS is getting rid of their “Angels” stating that the Angel image is no longer culturally relevant, and they’re FINALLY implementing more body inclusive marketing. Awesome…it only took 10 years of steady decline, a worldwide pandemic, and a change in ownership to get there. Will it be enough to restore Victoria’s Secret to its past glory? Or is it too little too late? Only time will tell, but what do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Number 3: By Compromising Quality to Compensate For Loss of Revenue

When Victoria’s Secret started losing money because they weren’t listening to their Ideal Individuals, they compensated by using cheaper materials to create their lingerie.

When VS continued to lose money because their product quality was poor AND wasn’t listening, they compensated by cutting back on staffing and payroll.

And then as they continued to lose money because their customer service had declined, the quality of their products had declined, and their brand messaging was tone-deaf—they were hit with pandemic and found themselves either needing to retire the brand or sell it off for way less than it’s worth. They sold it off.

If L Brands had been willing to listen, willing to grow with their customers, willing to make the changes that their customers were practically BEGGING for, Victoria’s Secret would still be on top. How do I know?

Because VS was only acquired a couple of months ago by a private investment firm that is already starting to implement more inclusive messaging, and Victoria’s Secret has already shown a 7% increase in revenue in just a couple of months. If they keep this up, the private investment firm that bought VS for only 525M will have made their money back by the end of the year.  

For a brand that knows how to listen, EVERYTHING their ideal individuals say can be spun into gold, including everything their ideal individuals are saying about other brands. So basically, even the reviews for other brands in your industry are full of gold that is being overlooked like crazy.

And what that means for you is that it’s NEVER too early or too late to start listening and start getting to know your customers the best.

Remember, every penny your brand earns will be the direct result of how well your brand listens. Every. Single. Penny. So undervaluing customer feedback is like undervaluing your brand’s ultimate success. All the keys to that success are embedded in the feedback of your Ideal Individuals, so LISTEN to bad reviews and take action on them, respond to cultural shifts that are meaningful to your ideal individuals, and if your revenue begins to falter NEVER compensate by lowering the quality of your deliverables! Instead, figure out where your brand has failed to listen because your income will always be directly aligned with how well your customers feel heard.

Thank you so much for joining me! If you enjoyed this article, follow me on YouTube and Facebook. I release new videos every Tuesday and Thursday, so keep treating these episodes as a masterclass for becoming an Inspiration to Millions with Branding. And as always the way to becoming an Inspiration to Millions starts with our motto: Love What You Do and Love How You Do It.