Next up on my roster of big brands for mission statement evaluation is Limited Brands. Limited Brands encompasses Victoria's Secret, Henri Bendel, La Senza, C.O. Bigelow and Bath & Body Works. Their mission statement is:
"Limited Brands is committed to building a family of the world's best fashion brands offering captivating customer experiences that drive long-term loyalty and deliver sustained growth for our shareholders."
So let me get this straight: Limited's main goal is to be... captivating? Well, okay. In a retail context, that makes sense: you want to charm and engage your customer, because they're far more likely to stay and spend money. But some of these brands are more of a success in this experience than others.
Henri Bendel—yes. Henri Bendel is one of the most luxurious retailers in the United States. Going to Henri Bendel is a captivating experience. Victoria's Secret... you've got me there. Their commercials, fashion shows, and in-store branding captivate me. It's hard not to be captivated by lingerie and the women modeling it. La Senza is a Canadian chain, so I can't say if they're captivating, but they're also a high-end lingerie retailer, so my money's on yes.
Captivate just seems like a weird word though for Bath & Body Works, a brand that started out looking like a farm stand.
Since its acquisition it's gotten more upscale, but I wouldn't call it captivating. Have you been in a Bath & Body Works lately? It's homogenized and weird, and the scents, in my opinion, have more chemical overtones. I actually kind of miss the old Bath & Body Works for their clarity of vision and old-skool charm. The scents weren't complex, but there's a childhood comfort in the Apples scent that I loved.
That brand felt friendly, and everything from the packaging to the retail merchandising formed a cohesive vision of what it was meant to be—quirky, homey, non-intimidating. I think something was lost in trying to create a "captivating" experience. As it turns out, however, not everyone agrees with me. Sales are up in the 3rd quarter for Bath & Body Works, with a 6% gain over prior year sales. That could be the economy recovering, or it could be the continued growth of a great brand. It's hard to say, but for my part, I still think Bath & Body Works fails to offer a captivating experience because I'm not charmed by it, nor do I want to spend my money there.
What do you think?
Emblemist: Yes for Bendel/Victoria's Secret, No for Bath & Body Works