Q&A with Next marketing director Christine Gerrard

As Next announces its first-half results, retail marketing director Christine Gerrard talks about the prospects

for Christmas trading, the London 2012 Olympic games, London Fashion Week and its new French-themed advertising campaign.

MW – Recent reports have suggested Christmas could be particularly gloomy for retailers this year, what are your thoughts?

CG – I think our thoughts on this are well documented by our chief executive’s comments. There will be no change for our Christmas marketing at all this year – we will be doing exactly the same level of marketing that we have done for the last three years. There will be a big print marketing campaign and all the other activity and the same activity we have for the last three years.

MW – How would you describe Next’s long-term marketing strategy?

CG – The great thing about Next now is that there’s so much diversity in the collection. We still have brilliant core products but we’re reacting so much faster to all the trends and we’re front of mind for everyone shopping for clothes.

We developed a strategy three years ago when we overhauled the brand and first started advertising again and each year we have built on that. We are very happy with where our marketing at the moment.

MW – What is the latest thing you are working on marketing-wise?

CG – Facebook has been a main focus for the last 18 months. We have well over 200,000 people on Facebook who ’like’ us. I think we are third in the marketplace behind New Look and Topshop. Facebook has been an interesting way of engaging customers and we are continuing to grow on this. We get immediate feedback which is really interesting for us to monitor. Facebook is a really interesting part of the marketing mix.

MWHow will you be celebrating London Fashion Week?

CG – We will be doing lots of active stuff with our website. We will be sponsoring London taxis with Elle magazine and they will be blogging with us from the front row for our website and Facebook. We will also have a film crew following the night which will broadcast on Next TV.

MW – Next is an official sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics, how is the preparation going so far?

CG – We have now come to an agreement on the suits [supplied to Olympic staff and athletes], we have to get our final samples in by the end of this year so we are well advanced in this now. It’s all going very well.

MW – Your new TV ad launched on Friday, what inspired the French theme?

CG – We always look at the collection, that’s the start point. I felt that Paris had the perfect backdrop to the camel and navy tones in this collection. The Paris architecture really gives that nice canvas to show off the clothes nicely. The trend is slightly smarter this season generally and Paris fits with that lovely chic backdrop.

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