Assessing the Next brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.

Brand ***

The strength of the Next brand is its reliability of quality, value and contemporary style. It is not adventurous, but safe and reliable, achieving widespread, mass-market appeal across all demographics aspirational for some, functional for others. It is in almost everyones repertoire.  However, when fashion becomes more adventurous as we are seeing today, with Boho, and grunge, frills and bright colours, Next can seem boring and out of touch.

Experience ****

Next stores are nearly always clean and tidy, if a little uninspired. The larger outlets are bright, spacious and well laid out in clearly designated departments, making them easy to shop, with lots of easily accessible, front-facing merchandise. Smaller stores, however, can be over-stocked and cramped. The discipline and clarity that is part of the concept cannot be adequately represented in small stores.  Window displays are usually very good: clean, simple and uncluttered – if a little lacklustre.

Product ***

Next provides a comprehensive range for men, women and kids, with strong accessories. Ranges have successfully catered for all aspects of lifestyle: looking smart for an interview; an outfit for a party; picking up the kids from school; or making your flat look like the magazines. But if you want individuality, any colour other than black, beige and pastels, or something to go clubbing in, its best to try somewhere else. Next has become a fashion-free zone recently. It is not the place to shop for todays hot lines: ankle booties, big knitwear, princess coats and big beads.  Next has also recently offered more to the older customer and may have, as a consequence, alienated some of its younger customers.

Value Positioning ***

Nexts value positioning has always been at the heart of the brand. However, with price deflation on the high street, competition from the likes of Primark and George, plus M&S offering, for example, good quality T-shirts for as little as 5, Next does not look as good value for money as it once was.

Recommendations

Consider sub-brands/collections with a more distinctive look and fashionability.

Get some pizzazz and excitement into the windows and new ranges. Make customers inquisitive about new lines.

Offer a better balance and present merchandise for different age groups so as not to alienate key customer segments.

Better promote the fact the there are products available in the directory that are not available in stores.

Overall: ***

www.pragmauk.com

See this weeks Marketing Week magazine for an in-depth analysis of Nexts latest financial results

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