Argos’s digital transformation is real but perception lags

Argos has traditionally been seen as a more downmarket retailer, with stores and a brand identity that lacked a contemporary edge. It has been trying to change that perception over the past couple of years with huge investments in the store experience, staff training and its infrastructure with the aim of creating a high street retailer with unrivalled digital capabilities.

Walk into one of its new digital stores, there are 40 now, and it is impossible not to notice the changes. The often drab and disorganised experience has been replaced with something benefiting a modern retailer. The stores are clean and stylish, the queues short, the brand image clear.

The problem was that unless people had one of these stores on their local high street they might not have realised the work Argos has been doing. Argos has seen an improvement in sales, up 4.9 per cent in the last quarter compared to 1.9 per cent a year ago, but perceptions of the brand haven’t shifted much.

To remedy this, Argos has launched its biggest ever campaign to raise awareness of its digital transformation among consumers and make loyal shoppers ‘proud to be associated with the brand’.

The campaign marks a shift in strategy, with the alien family that has been the company’s brand ambassador gone. The campaign introduces a new strapline “Get set, go Argos” that the retailer hopes will enable it to communicate a number of messages, from the range of brands it offers to its service proposition and great value.

Argos’ marketing director Stephen Vowles told The Marketing Week the campaign is aimed at raising awareness of all the changes that Argos has undergone over the past couple of years. That includes the roll out of its digital format, which replaces the traditional paper brochures and blue pens with iPads, as well as changes to click-and-collect and the expansion of its product range, which now includes more premium brands.

He admitted that while people that have a digital store as their local Argos have noticed the difference and have reacted “fantastically” to the changes, outside that audience there isn’t much awareness of the transformation at Argos.

The TV ad doesn’t give away who it is from until right at the end, it is doubtful anyone will guess.

It is a big departure from the alien family that has served Argos so well for the last three years. However, if the campaign is to be successful in getting the 35% of UK households that don’t currently shop at the retailer to reappraise the brand, it needed to be.

It is a campaign that befits a retailer aiming to “reposition for digital” and carve its own unique place in the market.

Argos has changed but the campaign is necessary to achieve objectives.

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