Brand Audit: Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer has struggled with poor performance in its clothing division in the past year, but a decline in key brand perception metrics should be of equal concern.

M&SAutumnWinter-Campaign-2013
M&S struggles to maintain brand metrics.

Earlier this month M&S outlined a new fashion strategy to reassert its quality positioning to kick start ailing clothing sales after seven consecutive quarters of falling sales. It also revealed a new brand positioning for its food business – which has outperformed its clothing business over the last 12 months.

The strategy will be led by former Debenhams and Jaeger boss Belinda Earl who was appointed as style director in June amid a restructure of the senior management team that saw John Dixon, who formerly headed up M&S’s food division, named director of general merchandise, including clothing.

In the past year, M&S’s brand metrics have fallen against every brand measure, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex.

M&S has historically enjoyed a strong reputation for quality and value but worryingly for the brand, its quality and value scores have suffered in the past year.

YouGov’s BrandIndex splits out Marks & Spencer into three different sector segments; general retail, high street fashion and as a supermarket. As a supermarket and general retailer, M&S’s scores consistently higher that its high street fashion business in terms of quality, demonstrating the challenge facing the business’s clothing division. In the fashion category it sits at 53.3 down from 59.8.

In the general retailer category, M&S’s overall index score, which takes into account how consumers rate the brand in terms of impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and whether they would recommend it, peaked at 51.2 in January but currently sits at 43.3 – 13 points lower than a year ago.

Consumer perception of the value offered by M&S (in the general retail category) has suffered considerably over the last year. It currently sits at 27.8, slipping from 41.1 in May 2012.

The retailer’s buzz score, which measures the balance of positive and negative sentiment heard about a brand by consumers, has dropped significantly over the course of 12 months as it has faced negative media coverage around each of its quarterly financial updates. Its buzz score currently sits at 8.1, down from 25.3 a year ago. It reached a year-low of 1.5 on 4 August shortly after reporting its worst non-food performance in years – a 6.8 per cent drop for the three months to June 30.

M&S will be hoping its efforts to reiterate its quality credentials through its new fashion strategy led by Earl and new marketing direction under recently appointed marketing chief Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, will boost sales and reverse falling clothing sales at the same time as improving consumer perceptions of the retailer.

Latest from Marketing Week

Tesco, M&S, Just Eat: 5 things that mattered this week and why

m&s

M&S chief outlines digital-first strategy after profits plummet Marks & Spencer (M&S) is gearing up for a digital-first future, after its revealed on Wednesday (23 May) that profits had dropped a massive 62.1% to £66.8m compared to the previous year. A day earlier, the struggling retailer confirmed it will close more than 100 stores over […]

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here