Dunelm on changing perceptions by ‘shining a light’ on what’s already there

Dunelm’s marketing lead on hoping to alter customer perceptions around the breadth of its range through focusing on what the company already has rather than reinventing the wheel.

Dunelm is hoping its latest campaign will solve its “perception issue” around the breadth of its offering.

The home and furniture company launches its newest campaign ‘Home of Homes’ today (25 September), bringing to the forefront an element of the brand its marketing director Sean McGinty felt it needed to “shine more of a light” on. That being its ‘home of homes’ calling card.

“This is a brand platform. There’s an ad but this is much bigger than an ad,” says McGinty, this being his first campaign since joining the business at the start of the year after four successful years at Aldi.

He notes Homes of Homes was already beneath the store front on most shops and on the vans while internally it is something the business is familiar with. “Where we want to be is that when we start talking to customers, we’re not going to talk to them about products, we’re going to talk to them about the solution our products are going to give to their family.”

Next’s CEO on why it uses a ‘hurdle rate’ for setting marketing budgetsMcGinty explains this could mean using the platform as the “home of a cosy night in” or the “home of a tidy home” but it’s ultimately a shortcut to getting customers to understand Dunelm has everything under one roof.

Certainly, it is a bold move for an incoming marketing director to return to an element of the brand which has always been there rather than create something entirely new from scratch. “When I came in Home of Homes wasn’t something we used or did a lot with. People might have expected the new marketing director to come in and go, right, what’s the new shiny thing, but I saw this and thought for the job we need to do, we’ve already got it all,” he tells Marketing Week. “We just need to shine a light on it and bring that out and make more of it.”

Upon joining the business, McGinty kicked off some segmentation analysis and what came through – and is still coming through as it is ongoing – was that Dunelm had a real perception issue at both a range and category level. “Where we have a huge market share, customers understood it, like curtains, cushions, the heritage categories,” explains McGinty. “But then some areas of the business, there’s so much they just didn’t know we sold, it’s not top of mind, there’s no mental availability for anything outside of the heritage categories.”

Ignore the sceptics, brands can be built on digital platformsHe recalls how he would walk around stores upon starting the role and note that customers seemed quite blinkered and would be in and out of the shop before considering the breadth of the range.

“I had a bit of insight [from that] but then it came through in droves from the segmentation research,” says McGinty. “Our biggest issue was that customers didn’t understand what Dunelm was and almost what it sold. And so, in previous campaigns, it would have been around driving consideration, but we knew we were higher up the funnel, people just didn’t know what we are.”

The campaign, which was created with creative agency Creature, looks to address this through both a visual display of the wide offering Dunelm has, but also with a catchy parody of the famous Grease song ‘You’re The One That I Want’ which reinforces the point.

It’s not a complete break from the past, however, Dunelm has always been a colourful brand that stood out compared to the more muted sleek of a rival like Ikea, for example. McGinty says he was brought into the role to “keep what was working” and get rid of what wasn’t. “None of this has been about reinventing the wheel. What’s been great about it is that it’s always been there, it’s just never been packaged,” says McGinty.

Marketing Week will be publishing a more in-depth look at McGinty’s first few months at Dunelm, the role of research, pricing and why he left Aldi soon.