Victoria's Secret Upsells Club Memberships to Catalog Buyers

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Telephone agents for Victoria's Secret Direct, which operates the lingerie and swimwear retailer's catalog and e-commerce businesses, is upselling memberships in a travel and entertainment discount club.


The effort, which started earlier this month, results from a partnership between Victoria's Secret Direct and MemberWorks, a marketer of membership club services. The club, known as Victoria's Secret Escapes, could serve as a catalyst for growth by MemberWorks, said William Olson, executive vice president with the Stamford, CT-based membership marketer.


MemberWorks did not give specifics on the types of travel and entertainment product discounts that club members will be offered, though Olson said the products would be "very consistent with the brand." After they buy Victoria's Secret catalog merchandise, customers receive the offer of a free-trial club membership and are charged when the trial period expires.


Selling the memberships is the responsibility of Victoria's Secret Direct inbound telemarketing agents, known as "fashion consultants." The fashion consultants are familiar with Victoria's Secret merchandise and its customer base, and Olson said he thinks their knowledge combined with MemberWorks' offer will prove successful.


By February or March, MemberWorks plans to extend the upsell offers to Internet customers of Victoria's Secret Direct. Consumers would get the offer as they checked out their merchandise ordered online.


Further details about the offer were unavailable. Olson declined to disclose results of the campaign through December, though he said it has been successful enough that MemberWorks might wish to expand its partnership with Victoria's Secret.


MemberWorks has several partners in its membership programs, including some major retailers, Olson said. However, he acknowledged that Victoria's Secret would rank among MemberWorks' top partners in terms of brand recognition.


"It's clearly got panache and viability," he said of the Victoria's Secret brand.


The club marketer has found a controversial partner. A Victoria's Secret lingerie fashion special that aired on television network CBS at 9 p.m. in November drew hundreds of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and prompted one commissioner to call for revisions to the agency's indecency rules.


MemberWorks has faced controversy of its own. Earlier this year, it sued real estate portal Homestore Inc. on charges of securities fraud, common law fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and breach of contract.


MemberWorks claimed it sold an Internet property called iPlace.com to Homestore last year mainly for stock in Homestore, and then was unable to sell the stock while watching it plummet 95 percent amid reports of the questionable booking of ad revenue on Homestore.com.


In August, MemberWorks accepted a $23 million settlement from Homestore.
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