M&S plans to take a more savvy social media marketing approach

The retailer is launching a new e-commerce platform in the spring and investing behind the scenes in logistics and fulfilment to help drive up online sales, which grew 23 per cent in its third quarter. A spokesperson told Marketing Week that social media can help support this growth and it is planning further customer participation on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to boost engagement.

“Christmas was a good example of how our campaigns can be much more integrated and we can be much more savvy in social media. We want to continue that,” she adds.

M&S has been shifting its marketing approach to digital first starting with the “Leading Ladies” campaign, which launched on Facebook in September. It’s Christmas ads, “Believe in Magic and Sparkle” also debuted online and the retailer ran a social media campaign that asked customers to name the dog seen in the TV spot.

M&S said that for the Christmas campaign, its social media activity reached more than 23 million people within the first 24 hours and it received 300,000 new Facebook fans as a result. It is continuing its attempts to engage with customers, currently running a campaign to name new characters for its popular Percy Pig range of sweets..

“Customer participation has been very successful for us and we want to continue that. Use of social media is increasingly important because customers respond to it incredibly well,” she said.

M&S had a mixed Christmas, with like-for-like sales at its food business up 1.6 per cent in the 13 weeks to 28 December but general merchandise, including clothing, falling 2.1 per cent. Nevertheless, M&S said it is making some headway, with Kantar figures for the 12 weeks to 24 November showing “small market share growth” in womenswear for the first time in three years and a good reception from the fashion press for its Spring/Summer line.

The retailer said it saw improvements in sales in “key strategy areas”, with dress sales up 110 per cent and coats increasing by a third. The spokesperson said customers also “traded up” on quality and style in areas such as lingerie, helped by the Rosie for Autograph range, which featured in its Christmas advertising.