The “Fantastic Summer Moments” campaign launches today (24 April) and will promote Debenhams’ Mantaray brand alongside designer brands such as Jasper Conran, Jonathan Saunders and Floozie. Richard Cristofoli, Debenhams’ marketing director, describes Mantaray told Marketing Week that the retailer is hoping to replicate the success of its “exclusive” Designers at Debenhams message.
He claimed that featuring “hero” products from a particular brand has a halo effect across the rest of the range. Sales of H! by Henry Holland have doubled since it was introduced to the retailer’s above the line advertising, he claims.
The campaign will run across digital and print, as well as on posters in what is Debenhams’ first “large-scale national” outdoor campaign as it aims to better engage with its core audience of 33 to 55-year-old women. There will also be a TV ad, set to launch next week.
Debenhams is struggling to boost profitability, issuing a profit warning in January and announcing that its core UK business saw profits fall by 28.4 per cent in the 26 weeks to 1 March. This despite the fact that sales at stores open for more than a year were up 1.5 per cent.
Part of Debenhams’ problem has been its reliance on promotions, which boosted sales but at the cost of margins. The retailer has said it will reduce the number of promotions. The focus on its own brands will also be seen an attempt to boost profits, with own label ranges typically offering higher profit margins and enabling Debenhams to control its own pricing.
Cristofoli claims that despite the profit warning, customers “haven’t fallen out of love with the brand”. He says brand metrics “remain positive” and that on Oxford Street, where Debenhams has recently revamped its flagship store, propensity to purchase is even higher than the average.
Figures from YouGov’s Brand Index back his claims up. Propensity to purchase has remained steady over the past six months while its Index ranking, a measure of customers perceptions including including quality, impression and value, is down slightly to 28.1, not a statistically significant drop and it remains at number five in a list of 33 high street retailers.
Instead, says Cristofoli, recent problems were caused by its failure to keep up in terms of digital, adding that its multichannel model and delivery promise “weren’t strong enough”. It is now working to improve these aspects and will communicate those changes to customers once its new multichannel proposition is fully in place.