Hello everyone! If you follow my blog you’ll know that The Body Shop sends me free stuff about once a month, and in exchange I write a quick review on their website. I also usually write an accompanying review on this blog. This time they sent me a couple of items from their Fuji Green Tea line.
Fuji Green Tea Body Butter
When I first got this in the mail, I was excited because I absolutely love The Body Shop’s Body Butters. They, along with the (original- not Fuji) Tea Tree line of products are the original reason why I fell in love with The Body Shop’s products. Once I opened it I was delighted with the smell. The first thing I thought was, “Ooooh! I hope this comes in a Body Spray!” Initially, when I saw “Green Tea” on the product I thought that it might be over-powering in the way that green tea can be at times. This is not. It’s a distinctly light scent and it’s very wearable. I’ve noticed that they are selling an Eau De Parfum, and I might have to pick that up, but I do hope that they release a body spray in the future. The Body Butter itself, is just as moisturizing, smooth and wonderful as the other body butters I fell in love with and I’m looking forward to picking up this one again once I run out of my travel sized one.
You can pick up this Body Butter here, retail is $21 (but you can probably find it on sale! :) )
I always have to admit that when I’m sent full sized versions of products, I do tend to appreciate them more. Like the Body Butter, I really enjoyed the scent of this product, its fragrance filled my shower making it fun to use. I felt that it did a perfect job of exfoliating my legs, and that it left them fresh and clean-feeling. Personally, I tend to prefer sugar scrubs but if you like the ones with beads in them, this one will be perfect for you. My favorite scrub that I’ve tried from The Body Shop so far has been the Wild Argan Oil Body Scrub, which I purchased after having received the Wild Argan Oil Body Butter and Hair Oil from The Body Shop and really enjoying the scent and results. I would definitely recommend the hair oil now that I’ve been using it for a while, now that I think about that too.
I am absolutely LOVING the Retreat Dress. As a curvy girl living in a warm, humid climate I appreciate the light, airy fabric that is Seriously Light Luon. It is also anti-stink with Silverescent technology built-in. (Thank goodness!) I really love how good it looks on all shapes and sizes. So far I’ve seen a ton of really flattering photos and I’m a HUGE fan!
Victoria’s Secret is that La Senza is the Future Future Shop
Victoria’s Secret versus La Senza and why ‘when’ is a more valid question than ‘if’ the Canadian retailer will experience the same transition to VS as Future Shop has to Best Buy.
First, I must honestly admit my bias. I have been a fan of La Senza for quite some time. Their fun attitude, great store locations, premium products and fair prices kept me coming back for years. I still place orders online from time to time, though I no longer shop in-store since I no longer live close by.
I got the idea to write this post while shopping at a Victoria’s Secret location in the US. Looking around at the the pretty lacies, and the promises of perfect cleavage I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between Victoria’s Secret’s products and my favorite Canadian lingerie retailer, La Senza’s offerings. But there was a key difference: Where were all the sale signs? Where were the 5 for $25 panty bins? Where were the buy one get one 50% off bras? Victoria’s Secret was simply more expensive. Their sales were nearly nonexistent. “Panties 3/$33!,” one sign exclaimed. Uh, wait, what? Eleven dollar underwear? Hardly a deal, if you ask me. And thence my curiosity grew.
I started this article with one hypothesis: La Senza and Victoria’s Secret sell basically the same products, but La Senza is a lot cheaper. During the research that I did for this article, I developed a second hypothesis: L Brands intends to close all La Senza stores with Victoria’s Secret emerging as the brand of choice. I hope I can convince you that both of these statements are true, but please tell me what you think in the comments below!
Victoria’s Secret is more expensive than La Senza. Allow me to provide a few examples. The Victoria’s Secret Medallion Lace Trim Thong Panty is $10.50 retail or 5 for $27 ($5.40 each), while the suspiciously similar Remix Thong Panty at La Senza is $7.50 retail or 7 for $28 ($4.00 each). The difference between paying $5.40 for a pair of panties at VS and $4 at La Senza is 25.9%. Take also, for example, VS’s Bombshell Adds-Two-Cups Push-Up Bra $49.50 retail vs La Senza’s Hello Sugar Push-Up Bra $42.50 retail, which also claims to double a woman’s cup size. Now you might be saying to yourself, “Well, $7 is not that big a difference even though they do look a lot alike.” You’re right, it’s not really that much, only about 15% or so, but La Senza also has way better sales than Victoria’s Secret. For example, as of this writing, these bras at Victoria’s Secret have a ‘free shipping (and returns)’ offer attached, while La Senza’s deal du jour is ‘buy one, get one for $15.’ So, in this case, two of these bras at VS cost $99, with shipping included, while two of these bras cost $57.50, plus $9 for shipping, coming out to a total of $66.5. If you buy two, the discount here would be 32.8%. As a little icing on the cake, my American readers can enjoy the fact that while the VS prices are quoted in US dollars, the La Senza prices are quoted in Canadian dollars. As of this writing, the US dollar enjoys a nearly 25% advantage over the Canadian dollar, and yes, that $9 shipping quote includes continental US destinations.
La Senza is cheaper, but don’t take my word for it, in late 2014, when describing La Senza versus Victoria’s Secret, L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said that the La Senza brand would give consumers a lower priced product versus Victoria’s Secret and Pink.
How do these companies encourage customer loyalty?
Both companies have loyalty programs. La Senza’s requires a fee: pay $10 once, and get 10% off for a year, plus extra coupon savings. For only $10, you get 10% off every order, free standard shipping to Canada or the US with orders of over $100 (which is $9, so there’s your membership fee right there), and exclusive sales, coupons, etc… Oh, and you don’t have to open a credit card account.
Victoria’s Secret loyalty benefits apply only to holders of the Victoria’s Secret Credit Card. It works out to about 4% savings. For every $250 spent, you get $10 back- except if you buy bras, double ‘points’ for bras, so that bumps it up to an effective 8% if you only ever buy bras.
Both cards have a ‘free birthday gift!’ Information I found online said that the gift from La Senza was a free pair of panties and an extra 30% off discount during your birthday month, while VS’s birthday gift is $10 off your purchase. I can’t say for sure if that discount and both gifts stay the same year over year, since the information I found was from 2014 and on a deal site, and not official communication from the company itself. The only thing that both companies say is “free gift,” so the best I can do, is speculate.
When I noticed that La Senza’s product offerings were nearly identical to those sold by Victoria’s Secret I thought, surely they’re unique companies with their own separate supply and design chains. I did a little research and learned quite the opposite. This is particularly shocking to me because of the significant price difference between the two brands.
Which brings me back to my point: it’s the same quality of product, with at the very least similar, if not identical manufacturing and design streams. But don’t take my word for it, listen instead to a 2013 interview, with managing director of La Senza brand, David Pidgeon who said “By virtue of the fact we’re [La Senza] manufactured in the Victoria’s Secret factories, you have the same manufacturing processes you would get in a more expensive brand.” Except that it’s not more expensive, it’s “lower priced,” as CEO Leslie Wexner said in an interview cited also above.
So here we have high-level brand execs confirming my first hypothesis: La Senza and Victoria’s Secret are the same quality of products, manufactured in the same factories, and La Senza is less expensive, even though it is essentially the same.
The Future of La Senza
L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner said that he envisioned over 1,000 stores in the US one day, this is interesting, since L Brands has not opened any La Senza stores in the US since the acquisition of the brand in 2007 by L Brands for $628 million (USD).
In 2013, the leadership, including Martin Waters, the International President of L Brands, said that the company was planning to open 6 stores in the midwest. This location was chosen because it was the best place for a value-priced brand as opposed to somewhere more fashion forward like L.A.; and presumably where the lower prices would attract new customers and be less likely to erode Victoria’s Secret clientele. In reference to potential expansion of the La Senza brand, Waters even said that “It ought to be big. We wouldn’t do it if we thought it was just a couple of dozen.” However, these plans were scrapped the following year due to a downturn in La Senza business the previous quarter. In order to understand this ‘downturn’ in business, I consulted the annual SEC filing for the year ended February 2014, which includes the final quarter or 2013. I saw a note about decreased sales at La Senza stores due to stores closing, which was a company decision, but overall, I saw positive numbers. Average sales per square foot increased from $438 to $516, and sales per individual store increased from $1,435,000 in 2012, to $1,653,000 in 2013. While I was unable to see where business dropped in the fourth quarter from the SEC filings, the problem I do see is that La Senza pales in comparison to VS. Even though profits seem to be increasing at La Senza, in reference to the numbers I cited above, the average square foot sales at VS stores is $824, while the average single store sales tops $4,969,000.
After reviewing many years of L Brands SEC filings, there exists an impressive difference in profits between the two brands. For example, in their most recent SEC Annual Filing, it was noted that “At Victoria’s Secret Stores, gross profit increased due to higher merchandise margin dollars as a result of the increase in net sales and less promotional activity.” What this means is that profits at VS increased because a) they sold more (“net sales”) and b) they had fewer sales (“less promotional activity”). While La Senza, it was noted “For 2014, gross profit decreased due to lower merchandise margin dollars at La Senza. The gross profit rate decrease was primarily driven by a decrease in the merchandise margin rate at La Senza, partially offset by a decrease in the buying and occupancy expense rate.” What this means is that there were fewer profits at La Senza because they sold items for lower prices (merchandise margin), but the good thing, as they note, is that they’re not ‘paying as much rent or buying as much stuff’ so that offsets the lower profit rate a little. So, basically, they don’t have as many locations to sell stuff at lower margins in anymore, so that helps reduce the degree to which they have lower profit margins. This is all written in financial jargon, so in summary, La Senza is profitable, but it is not as profitable as Victoria’s Secret where consumers are willing to spend more money. Therefore more money is made per square foot of retail and these higher profits make La Senza look like a mediocre investment.
This, however, is only based on what I can interpret by reading the SEC filings, I am sure that L Brands insiders have a much less tenuous grasp on the profitability of their investments than I do.
In 2006, before the acquisition, La Senza had 318 stores in Canada and operated 327 stores in 34 countries. Currently, Canada has about 140 stores and operates 260 stores in 29 other countries. Slowly, L Brands has been closing La Senza stores and I fear that eventually, Victoria’s Secret will emerge to become the brand of preference and my favorite moderately-priced sleepwear and lingerie brand will cease to exist.
Here’s a chart I made by gathering data from L Brand’s Annual SEC filings. The red line shows the gradual decline in La Senza retail locations, while the blue line shows a slow increase in Victoria’s Secret locations in Canada.
La Senza & Victoria’s Secret Retail Locations in Canada
Before the acquisition, La Senza operated over 300 stores, less than a decade later, they now operate less than half as many. Meanwhile, Victoria’s Secret methodically moves in to scoop up the consumers abandoned by La Senza. There is no mention in L Brand’s 2015 ICR Exchange Conference presentation about growing La Senza, or basically about La Senza at all.
The Inevitable Outcome
A pattern occurs every time a US brand acquires a Canadian company. That pattern is that the American brand absorbs, closes or rebrands the Canadian stores and moves on to operate normally in Canada. Famously, when Best Buy acquired Future Shop in 2001 people were shocked that the company allowed both to operate simultaneously and some even suggested that it was good for business. Consider this article about La Senza and VS that espouses the benefits that Best Buy and Future Shop saw by keeping both brands alive. It even says that “top company insiders figured the Future Shop name would eventually disappear. Instead, it survived and thrived by serving a slightly different customer.” However, we can now see that the long-term goal was to allow Best Buy to become the leading electronics retailer in Canada when recently all Future Shop locations were suddenly closed down. Consider also this article from the Financial Post, in which a former La Senza executive says that “With the Best Buy acquisition of Future Shop being one notable exception, it is the fate of most Canadian retailers acquired by U.S. rivals in the same merchandise category to eventually be subsumed by the U.S. brand.” What I’m suggesting is that even if it takes years, the La Senza name is also doomed to extinction. This will occur when Victoria’s Secret has sufficiently captured the taste and trust of the average Canadian consumer in the same way that Best Buy was eventually able to do the same.
I think I’ll go place an order now, while I still can.
What I’m Loving Right Now!
I am really into this Retreat Dress. It looks so comfy and airy. Perfect for hot, muggy Southern summers.
Yowza! All these Free To Be Wild bras. I am not a huge fan of these but I know that they’re popular. And these are some gorgeous colors! The Wunder Under crops are Breezy Regal Plum and they look beautiful on everyone I’ve seen them on so far.
I am loving this Star Crushed print. I was at Barre class today and saw the instructor wearing a Cool Racerback in this print- it was beautiful!
Apart from loving this print- I really like this saying… Except… I think it should say: This is the beginning of EVERYTHING you want. Because I am literally loving a ton of stuff this week.
The Trail Bound line has been getting a lot of attention but I don’t see it selling out online. I felt it in-store and I have to admit that they did feel a tad thin. Honestly, I would wait this one out and see if they go to markdown if you’re interested at all.
MORE Free to Be Wild bras! So pretty of colors!!! That Electric Coral looks super pretty.
This “Best Vest” jacket looks interesting, and I like it, but I feel like I would have to see it in person in order to determine whether I really like it or not.
I just HAD to share this because we all know how rarely Lululemon holds sales.
My opinion: We Made Too Much section has been pretty barren for many weeks. Not since Boxing Day has anything in the mark down section other than one pair of Wunder Unders caught my eye- And those were on “Super Mark Down” at only $34! Here’s a picture because I wouldn’t believe me either! LOL!
Given the fact that the last several weeks of “We Made Too Much” have consisted of items that were either sold out in popular sizes (6,8), or that they were unpopular items in general, I was delighted when I opened up “We Made Too Much” this morning to see so many gorgeous items in full size runs. I can’t make any guarantees that you’ll find something cute for yourself, but I would take a peek this week if I were you.
The other thing I want to let you know about are the IN-STORE sales that are happening. As far as I know, nothing is happening in my local store, but I’ve seen a few ads about stores in other markets that are holding sales in-store! Don’t forget to sign up for local emails and check the Facebook page(s) of your local Lululemon(s) to see if they’re holding a sale this weekend like other stores!
Here are a few I’ve seen:
I thought it would be a good idea to create a post where I, in a chronological, logical and helpful order post all my posts on selling so that someone could come here and open each page in the most relevant order possible.
Currently, I do have several posts written on selling Lululemon, but it has occurred to me that they’re not available in a series. Thus, welcome to the Sellers Series. I hope to continue to update this as more posts and ideas come to me. Consider this a work in progress, but for now, here is some of my best advice on selling:
The Culture of a Lululemon Addict– This is a basic intro post, if you’re new to Lulu, you might want to check it out. If not, it will only be a somewhat entertaining reiteration of things you already know.
Introduction to the Secondary Market– This discusses the very fact that we are able to achieve a more than fair aftermarket price for our used workout clothes, but does not discuss precisely how to sell.
What Drives the Prices of USED Clothing over Retail?– This article discusses scarcity, quality and collectibility as being drivers for why prices can go so high at times for used Lululemon clothing.
How To Enter the Lululemon Resale Market– This post discusses the many venues for where to sell your items. Ebay isn’t the only way, there are Facebook groups as well.
How to Determine Where to Sell Your Item– This discusses my personal policy on where I choose to sell my items. I talk about the pros and cons of each, as well as some explanation as to why I choose where I choose.
How to sell on eBay– This is an essential post if you intend to use eBay to sell your items. It includes things that I wish I had known when I first started selling on eBay.
Advice About Selling on Facebook– This post is a really important read if you intend to sell on Facebook. It will save you a lot of time and prevent others from taking your business personally.
The Difference Between Paying as Gift and Goods on PayPal– If you don’t know the difference, please read this post. It’s especially important when buying and selling on Facebook!
EMT VS PayPal– If you’re Canadian, this might be of some interest to you.
How to Determine The Value of Your Item– These are some of my simple tips for determining the value of your item. Enjoy!
And one post, on buying :)
I hope you enjoyed my Sellers Series, and I’m excited to see it grow with whatever else I can come up with. Is there something you’d like to see here? Please let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!!!
I decided to re-start my old series, “Things I Love Right Now.” A lot of different bloggers cover uploads, and they actually do a really great job at it. I think I’ll stick to talking about things I love, it’s more fun this way. I hope you enjoy!
Welcome, internet people! When Chavie Lieber contacted me from Racked to get my opinion on the resale market, I was a little nervous, but I am REALLY happy with the way she depicted me and my opinions in her article. I dutifully answered her questions and directed her towards many of my articles on the subject. For convenience, I’ll list them here:
Selling & Buying on Facebook – how to start selling
Thanks for coming to visit my blog and I hope you follow me for future Lululemon market updates!
The Body Shop recently released a new face mask and I wanted to take the time to tell you about it! As many of you, who follow my blog know, The Body Shop has been sending me their new offerings since July 2014, and all they ask is that I write a review on their site. They don’t ask me (or pay me!) to do anything else. I just wanted to make it clear, in case anyone was wondering whether or not I get paid for these reviews. I have done quite a few!
Let’s get to the meat then!
I’ve been testing this mask for over two weeks now, wearing it every other night. I think I’ve developed a pretty well-rounded opinion. First off, I gave this 5 stars online. I absolutely loved it and I really think it’s my absolute favourite product that I’ve tried that they’ve sent me so far, other than the Argan Oil body butter. I absolutely LOVE their Body Butters, they’re why I fell in love with The Body Shop products in the first place. Honourable mentions will also go to their Tea Tree line of products.
When I first received it, I liked the packaging but was curious about the texture.
Here are some pics for you:
It’s interesting and certainly lives up to its name. It IS bouncy! When I first started using it, I was what I would call generous and what others might call “heavy-handed” with my application. Soon enough I learned that you don’t really need that much at all to ensure maximum effectiveness. It smells nice, but it’s not overly pefume-y, which I enjoy. Scent is important when you’re going to be sleeping with it on. I usually apply it about 2-3 hours before bed time in order to let it sit on my skin, undisturbed before going to sleep. The mask stays on fairly well over night, even considering the fact that I’m a side-sleeper. It comes off easily when I wash my face in the morning and reveals gorgeous, fresh, ‘bouncy’ skin. My favorite part about this mask is how my skin looks and feel after using it. As many of you know, I am a student, this mask makes my skin look like it “woke up” at least two hours before me when I wash this mask off in the morning. It’s hard to describe, but I’d use the words “hydrated” and “refreshed” to tell you how my skin looks and feels after using this mask. Oh, and it’s not even a bit greasy! Really great buy if you’re in the market for a new hydrating mask.
Did you buy this? What do YOU think? Let me know in the comments below!
Wow! 50 OOTDs! I’m half way through my challenge! I have been evaluating this challenge and I feel as though I’m running out of unique outfits. Because of the weather, I’ve been wearing a lot of Pleasing Pants and Still pants, when I would like to be wearing Wunder Under crops and skirts! I am very much enjoying this series but I think I’m going to finish my challenge beginning July 10th so that I can do summer outfits and so that I don’t keep showing you guys the same things.
I hope you guys stick around until July when I re-start this challenge and do the second half, but until then, I will be focusing on other articles for this blog. You can look forward to my continuing beauty blogs reviewing products, and I will be re-starting a series I used to do called “Things I’m Loving Right Now,” which was about new Lululemon products. I’m also working on a post I’ve been meaning to do for a long time on the difference between a couple of companies I really like. The other thing I want to write about is other athletic companies’ clothing in comparison to Lululemon. I already have a brand in mind.
Hopefully y’all can stick around until July 10th to see the last half of my challenge where I hope to showcase my summer collection, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the other articles I will be working on.
Thank you for your support and thank you for reading!