M&S future looking bleak after sell-off

Further to your report last week, “M&S cuts pose threat to top Money jobs”, I would like to suggest it’s not just the future of M&S Money’s marketing directors that is looking uncertain after the sell-off to HSBC, but of the whole company.

Selling off the financial services division may provide a quick fix for M&S shareholders but it’s suicide in the longer term. It is the storecard that offers M&S a real chance of understanding its customers – what keeps them loyal, what they buy and how often – and in getting rid of this, M&S will lose what little understanding it has left.

Not that M&S took advantage of this data when it had it. I believe it is the company’s failure to appreciate what should have been its crown jewels that got it to this point in the first place. Data may not be the glamorous answer everyone’s looking for but it’s time companies realised it can make or break a brand.

Effective data analytics can identify who the most valuable consumers are for any brand, and this information has a huge impact on the bottom line. Recently at Discovery we were able to identify the key customers for a leading drinks brand and could then enroll them on a loyalty programme.

In today’s competitive environment, it’s imperative that companies keep knowledge of the customer at the centre of everything they do. We’ve helped Tesco get, and keep, it right with its Clubcard and I have serious doubt about the future of a company that shows such a blatant disregard for its customers.

Janet Snedden

Data consultancy director

EHS Brann Discovery

London EC1

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