It’s a company better known for controversy rather than lingerie, but now, Victoria’s Secret is aiming to capture a new market – sports.
Since announcing that it will stop selling swimwear after 2016, it has also divided its website into the three separate categories of Victoria’s Secret, Pink and Sport.
I didn’t find this fact all too surprising. Athleisure-wear is an increasingly lucrative market after all.
However, what did pique my interest was Victoria’s Secret’s decision to call out rivals Nike as part of its online advertising.
Including a quote from model Jasmine Tookes, who claims “When I tried these, I threw out all my Nike bras”, the copy is pretty audacious.
So, in terms of the website, how does Victoria Sport measure up against Nike Women?
Here’s a comparison, split into five separate categories:
- First impressions
- Landing pages & copy
- Product pages
The first thing that strikes me when comparing the two sites (Victoria Sport and the ‘Women’ section of Nike) is that they are remarkably similar.
Both use full-width video on the homepage, with both examples showing women partaking in a number of sporting activities decked out head to toe in the respective brands.
While Nike’s is a bit jarring for the user, using super fast-moving imagery that feels a little too in-your-face – I much prefer its depiction of strong and athletic women.
It nicely falls in line with Nike’s branding and its focus on female self-empowerment.
On the other hand, while Victoria’s Secret does show models boxing and doing yoga, the imagery still feels a little too focused on the women’s bodies rather than the actual activity.
Sure, it’s a definite move away from the allegedly photoshopped and perfectionist ideal of previous campaigns, yet it doesn’t feel quite as authentic as its competitor.
Landing pages & copy
As I previously mentioned, Victoria’s Secret calls out Nike with its testimonial from model Jasmine Leer.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the copy is just as bold.
Despite the tone coming across as a bit boastful, there’s no denying the lingerie retailer highlights its USP to good effect.
Reminding the user that Victoria’s Secret makes sports bras in real sizes (not just small, medium or large), it successfully trumps Nike with its ‘bra expert’ card.
In contrast, instead of talking about how good the brand is, Nike concentrates on what the product does for the consumer – again reinforcing its stance on self-improvement and empowerment through sport.
Combined with a humble and slightly self-deprecating tone, I find this copy more appealing from a consumer perspective.
The navigation for Victoria Sport comes in the form of a fairly standard drop-down header menu.
One thing I particularly like is the ‘sports bra guide section’ – a dedicated page offering advice on fit and a handy little tool to help you find the right product.
Again, spinning off of its main vertical of lingerie, this personalised and ‘expert’ approach certainly appeals.
On the category listing pages themselves, the drop-down filter system is pleasing.
Allowing the user to select multiple options as well as easily remove filters, it’s very intuitive and easy to use.
Nikeis header menu includes a good selection of categories and also curated themes on the left-hand side.
With specific categories, plus ‘all sports’ and ‘all clothing’, this provides more options for the user – always a positive.
Like its competitor, it also has a good product filter system. My only gripe is that it does not have a ‘clear all’ button, which Victoria’s Secret does.
For the product pages, I specifically focused on the sports bras section.
Clicking through to the category on Victoria Sport, there is an option to quick view each product, which is helpful if you’re browsing in a hurry or aren’t sure what you’re looking for.
Moving on to the main product pages themselves, one thing which seems to be lacking is imagery. Some include two or three images, however others have just one, which is poor by any standard.
When selecting product features, the decision to mark out-of-stock items with a horizontal line isn’t very clear. It would be much easier if these items were greyed out or dropped out altogether.
Similarly, the small size of the copy makes it difficult to locate certain features.
For example, the ‘size and fit’ icon is very easy to miss. Which is a shame, especially as when you do click it, it includes some good features like the ‘perfect fit’ calculator and measurement instructions.
The brand could easily make more of this, especially considering its USP is built around specific sizing.
The suggestions for ‘completing the look’ are helpful, providing the user with recommendations and outfit suggestions, as well as nicely showcasing the variety of Victoria Sport’s product range.
Combined with an extensive review section and an informative description, it’s is a well-designed page overall.
The Nike product pages are similarly user-friendly, but with a few extra features I would say they are slightly better.
For one, there are loads more images, allowing the user to get a proper understanding of the product and how it looks in real life.
Similarly, there is more of a focus on copywriting to highlight the various features of the bra, plus, there is a great filtering system within the reviews section.
While Victoria Sport allows the user to filter by star rating, Nike’s specific filter for ‘most helpful’, or ‘highest rated’ is a very nice touch.
The checkout process on Victoria Sport is frustrating.
Although there are some good features like options for guest check-out and PayPal payment, delivery charge is not disclosed until the user has entered an address.
Likewise, the various stages are rather clunky, such as this very unattractive option for offer codes (surely these three fields could neatly be replaced with an ‘add code’ call to action).
There should be no need to click continue on an offers section which the majority of users will not need.
In contrast, Nike’s checkout experience is smooth sailing, with a pleasingly minimal and integrated design.
It provides three options for checkout, including member, guest and Paypal.
Nike highlights the estimated delivery time and charges up front and also tempts the user into signing up to be a member (which brings free delivery and returns).
All in all, Nike Woman and Victoria Sport deliver a decent user experience.
Both utilising strong creatives, bold copy and user reviews, there’s a lot of similarly pleasing stuff.
While Victoria Sport wins on product filtering, Nike trumps it on user reviews.
But overall, I’d certainly say that Nike’s less-is-more approach makes it the most appealing.
By really honing its brand voice, and combining it with a streamlined design, it’s much more authentic and customer-centric than Victoria Sport.
It’s refreshing to see the latter experiment with a different tack, but of course, it takes more than calling out the competition to prove value.