Victoria’s Secret Jumps Back into the Pool: How Brands Can Use Market Research to Thrill Their Customers

What do a bikini, a bath bomb, a fruity cereal, and a funny TV show about cops have in common? They were gone and now they are back due to the power of customer feedback.

Some recent examples:

  • Victoria’s Secret Swimwear – discontinued in 2016, when the company decided to focus on its signature undergarments, the swimwear line will relaunch this Spring based partially on feedback from customers.
  • Lush Cosmetics Bath Bombs – Lushies, as the company calls their dedicated fanbase voted in a special election to choose their 12 favorite discontinued scents persuading the company to relaunch them in a limited edition.
  • Trix Cereal – after years of customer requests to bring back the bright colors and fruity shapes of the original Trix cereal, General Mills granted their customer’s wishes — classic Trix is back.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – when canceled by FOX, fans of the irreverent sitcom took to social media to express their dismay. NBC heard their cries and the show was brought back to life for a new run.
  • United Airlines Stroopwafels – passengers were upset when the airline changed its snack menu and removed the stroopwafel, but United heard the uproar and the sweet treat is back on select morning flights.

The Customer-Brand Conversation

Today’s consumers know what they want and they have a multitude of ways to communicate these wants to the brands they love — brand websites, social media, petitions, customer call centers, letter writing campaigns, etc. Once these conversations are started, the brands can find themselves on the defensive, reacting to hot button issues rather than proactively engaging with consumers. One way for brands to get ahead of the game is to be constantly listening to their customer’s needs. Brands can save time and money by using consumer research to find out what their customers want before they launch new products, deactivate older products, and/or make formulation changes.

Haters Gonna Hate, Lovers Gonna Love

Social media is a hotbed of both customer complaints and kudos. Many a brand’s Facebook post is taken over by unrelated comments expressing customer’s opinions. Product fans create Instagram accounts paying homage to their beloved foods, beverages, TV shows, etc. Petitions to bring back discontinued beverage flavors and clothing styles are all over Twitter. The common denominator of all of this social media activity is how it leads brands down the road of reacting to customer feedback rather than proactively addressing customer preferences. Social media gives the opportunity for instant feedback but you often end up with the extremes as intense fans or haters self-select and dominate the comments sections of posts. Brands are left to scramble to respond to all of this feedback in a way that satisfies their customers.

The Power of Self-Service Consumer Research

Now imagine, you already knew what your customers wanted and it didn’t involve a crystal ball or a psychic hotline. What is this magical thing of which I speak — market research. Yes, yes, market research has been around forever you might reply and you would be right. However, traditional methods of consumer research often involve months of survey design, 6-8 weeks to field the survey, and dozens of focus groups, all to get to the analysis and conclusions phase.

While much market research has moved online, in today’s world of instant gratification, even online research methods need to change with the times. Armed with actionable consumer insights, speed to market can be the difference between a product pop and a product flop.

Thinking about the above product relaunch examples, one might wonder why didn’t these brands ask their customers for their input in the first place — a little bit of timely research could have avoided all the angst.

The question: how can brands get the customer information they need to be agile and pivot with speed when needed? The answer: self-service, online survey platforms like AYTM allow brands to target niche audiences and get scientifically valid, consumer feedback in 24 hours or less.

Using this rapid, iterative research approach; brands can listen in on customer’s wants and needs in real-time, getting the knowledge necessary to create successful product innovations.


Allie Smith is the former Director of Charts for eMarketer with over 15 years of experience in the world of market research. Her love for charts and graphs is only outweighed by her love for her whippets. She spends her free time watching Law & Order reruns while knitting cute hats for dogs.