And I Thought I Was Special. Not Really

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Customer Strategy
Marketing
Victoria's Secret recently invited me to its "invitation only" holiday event. Why the quotation marks around <I>invitation only</I>? The holiday event turned about to be as exclusive as a free concert in Central Park.

Victoria's Secret recently invited me to its "invitation only" holiday event. Why the quotation marks around invitation only? The holiday event turned about to be as exclusive as a free concert in Central Park.

I received my invitation via email and called to RSVP for myself and a guest (my daughter, Claudia). I printed the invitation as instructed: "Must present invitation for entry." And on Sunday, December 4, off we went to the Victoria's Secret store in Herald Square in New York. On the subway ride in, Claudia and I mused about why the retailer would host its holiday event from 7:30-9:30 on a Sunday evening. My guess was that since the event invitation went to engaged customers (i.e., opt-in email subscribers), those most likely to buy would be those who would attend.Then we arrived at the Herald Square store. Now maybe its events in its stores in suburban malls were actually invitation only; this one was anything but. It was open to anyone and everyone. And so were the "special" offers and raffles. There was no need to show an invitation for entry or for anything else; customers didn't need to show their invitation or use their Angel Card to receive the Victoria's Secret holiday ornament with their purchases. Everything (except triple points for Angel Card purchases) was open to everyone. And, believe me, on a Sunday night in December in Herald Square, I mean everyone. The store was jammed.

Now, I'm all for Victoria's Secret making a splash with as many customers as possible for its holiday event. But then don't call it invitation only. It's disappointing to customers who actually think they're being invited to an exclusive event because they're valued customers.

Sure, we stayed and shopped--and enjoyed the buzz of the crowded, music-filled store. And yes, I made a purchase. So Victoria's Secret accomplished its goal for inviting me. Ultimately, though, I was disappointed at not actually being the VIP I expected to be based on the invitation. As a result, Victoria's Secret has set my expectations just a bit lower. There's not much merry in that.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION