M&S CEO outlines marketing plans to boost sales

Marks & Spencer credits better alignment between marketing and buying operations with its improved performance in womenswear in the second quarter and signals future emphasis on mobile.

M and S Christmas

Marc Bolland M&S CEO says making sure it “bought more deeply” in the fashions and trends featured in its autumn marketing campaigns helped overcome the stock issues it encountered in quarter one.

Speaking to journalists at the second quarter results presentation to outline the retailer’s progress at the halfway stage of its three year transformation strategy, Bolland said: “When we bought five times more stock, we sold three times as much as we did in the first quarter which meant there was still availability after four weeks. The thing that customers don’t like is seeing something [in advertising] that they like and then going to stores and not being able to find it.”

Bolland added that its strategy to feature a group of models representing different sizes shapes and ages in the autumn TV ads helped boost womenswear sales because shoppers could see that a product would suit their body type rather than seeing clothes on a typical model or celebrity brand ambassador.

M&S plans to continue to feature more diverse models in future advertising.

It has also moved away from using celebrities in its Christmas TV ad. M&S has featured high profile celebrities in its advertising, particularly Christmas advertising, for more than a decade

Speaking to Marketing Week at the presentation, Bolland said the chain will, however, continue to use celebrities in advertising if it can develop more meaningful relationships with them.

He cited the retailer’s collaboration with Huntington Whitely to launch a lingerie range as an example of how it can work in “beautiful co-operation” with celebrity partners beyond advertising campaigns.

“We’re still closely working together with Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington Whitely on Autograph . It’s not carved in store or a religion to say you either work with celebrities or not. It depends on the creative idea and how strong a role a celebrity can play in it. You start with a creative idea and sometimes it will be with a celebrity and sometimes without,” he said

He added: “Some might be a closer cooperation and some might be without, but we should not be religious on it because celebrities can play an important role in some things and not in others.

Elsewhere Bolland also gave an update on M&S’s multichannel progress and food innovations.

  • M&S now takes a “continuous development” approach to digital and mobile technologies under Laura Wade-Gery’s stewardship, which Bolland says means it is no longer behind the market but leading.
  • Mobile will play a much larger role in M&S’s marketing, in-store and multichannel business. Bolland says: “If you want to be an international multichannel retailer, one thing you should be leading on is mobile because  thats where the future is. When I talk about mobile it’s like the magic answer to the question we haven’t asked yet – ‘what is after the iPad?’. That’s why we’ve launched apps ad has been leading in apps ad want to keep on leading.”
  • M&S is on target to launch its bespoke online platform in April 2013, when it will cut ties with its existing site hosted by Amazon, which Bolland says is “limiting” its online offering.
  • Bolland reasserted that M&S will not launch an online food delivery business.
  • M&S will launch more than 300 new festive product lines taking the full Christmas food range to almost 900 products.

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