Nike sues Lululemon for patent infringement
Nike is suing Lululemon for patent infringement, claiming its Mirror Home Gym copies some elements of its digital home exercise equipment.
Lululemon, which started life as a yoga wear company, acquired Mirror for $500m (£369m) in 2020 as it looked to expand into new areas of business.
In the complaint filed in the US, Nike claims it has “a robust portfolio of patents directed to its digital sport innovations for use in or with fitness equipment and apps”, and highlights the fact it allows athletes to connect on social media.
The patents relate to a memory system used to determine how many repetitions of an exercise users should do based on fitness level, ways to set up competitions and ways to record activity data.
Lululemon has contested the lawsuit, claiming the “patents in question are overly broad and invalid”.
B&M delivers strong Q3 despite lack of ecommerce offer
Value retailer B&M has posted group revenue growth of 0.1% for the third quarter of its financial year, which includes the crucial Christmas trading period.
The brand, which has no ecommerce offer, managed to keep customers coming in store despite the rise of Omicron.
B&M credits its decision to import stock early for the festive season as key to its performance, with CEO Simon Arora calling it the retailer’s “best-ever Christmas”.
While revenue growth was down 6.2% on a like-for-like basis compared to 2021, it increased by 14% versus two years ago, which Arora says demonstrates “strong retention of new customers”.
Group adjusted EBITDA for the 2022 financial year is now expected to be between £605m to £625m, ahead of the £578m previously estimated.
“Our decision to take receipt of imported Christmas stock early in the season meant we were able to provide customers with great products at great prices. The consistency of performance in the core B&M UK business reflects the growing appeal of our stores as a destination visit for seasonal products, as well as the strength of our supply chain,” Arora adds.
“Although the pandemic continues to create challenges for retailers and consumers alike, our relentless focus on value for money remains undiminished. Despite ongoing supply chain disruption, inflationary
pressures and uncertainty surrounding possible Covid-related restrictions, we remain confident in B&M’s prospects for 2022.”
Ethnic pay gap study reveals up to £255,000 void
Workers from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds are paid 84% of what their white colleagues earn, according to a new study.
The research by networking group People Like Us and Censuswide also finds 67% of BAME workers believe a white colleague doing the same job is on a higher salary. This rises to a 83% for PR and marketing, making it one of the worst performing sectors in terms of the ethnic pay gap.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of people from racially diverse backgrounds across all sectors believe their white counterparts earn up to £5,000 more per year. Given the average working life duration is 38 years, this means BAME workers could be losing out on up to £255,000, the study finds.
Looking specifically at respondents who work within marcomms and PR, 52% say they have been denied a pay rise and three in 10 (30%) think their race, nationality or ethnicity has negatively impacted their salary or promotion potential.
Some 44% of PR and marcomm professionals say they have struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion before, despite thinking they deserve one. More than a third (35%) believe their white colleagues are more likely than those from diverse backgrounds to successfully ask for a salary increase or promotion, while a third (30%) feel white colleagues are more likely to receive a pay rise without having to ask for one.
Across all sectors, of the people from racially diverse backgrounds who struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion, 26% left their industry because they weren’t given a pay rise, while 50% say being overlooked for a pay increase or promotion has led to anxiety or depression.
More than half of respondents say their employer – past or present – has revealed an ethnic pay gap exists, however only 39% of people surveyed say the specific details were shared.
Looking again at PR and marcomms specifically, 63% say they don’t know whether their current/previous employer has ever revealed they have an ethnic pay gap.
Darain Faraz, People Like Us co-founder, says: “During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, we saw companies and brands across all industries come out to pledge better opportunities and working conditions, including pay, for their diverse workforce. Since then, unfortunately, it looks like we haven’t quite made the progress we hoped.
“It’s simple. Nobody should earn less because of the colour of their skin, their sexual preference, gender or anything else that isn’t related to their performance. Salary and job progression should be based on merit, but the data here makes it patently clear that currently, they aren’t.”
He adds that companies must get better at identifying pay gaps and progression bias because without understanding the issue, “you can’t fix it”.
“We hope this research shines a light on the prevailing issue of the race pay gap, so that it can be rectified in 2022 once and for all. We’re asking every HR professional, payroll professional, CEO and business leader to do this exercise, and don’t just focus on race or gender, look at all cross sections in your company including race, sexuality, age, disability and gender.”
Google and Facebook fined for user tracking in France
France’s data privacy watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), has fined Google a record €150m for preventing users from blocking cookies easily, while Facebook was fined €60m for the same reason.
Facebook and Google have been given three months to rectify the problem and make it easier for French users to reject cookies or face fines of €100,000 a day for every day of delay.
“When you accept cookies, it’s done in just one click,” says Karin Kiefer, CNIL’s head of data protection and sanctions. “Rejecting cookies should be as easy as accepting them.”
New York Times owners buys The Athletic
The New York Times Company has acquired subscription-based sports news site The Athletic for $550m in cash.
The deal was agreed after the owner of the New York Times outlined plans to attract millions of additional subscribers. It is the latest move by the media firm to expand its audience beyond the traditional newspaper business.
Shares in the New York Times Company rose by 4.7% following news of the acquisition.
Thursday, 6 January
Next’s digital marketing focus starts to bear fruit
Fashion retailer Next achieved full price sales in the eight weeks to Christmas that were up by 20% compared to two years ago, and a full £70m ahead of its previous guidance for the period.
The group’s guidance for its full year profits before tax have been raised by £22m to £822m, 9.8% ahead of its 2019 figures.
Next announced last year that it would increase its marketing spend to levels higher than they were before the pandemic, but that physical stores would not be promoted. Instead it was to focus on driving sales through digital channels.
The move appears to have landed well with consumers. Total online sales in Q4 were up by 45% compared to 2019 levels, with the full year seeing a 49% increase in online sales compared to 2019.
More digital channels and longer trading day planned for Greggs
Bakery chain Greggs made progress in 2021 despite tough trading conditions, according to chief executive Roger Whiteside.
Announcing the company’s fourth quarter results, Whiteside says Greggs has brought forward planned 2022 pay awards in recognition of the effort made by staff.
Gregg’s saw total sales in 2021 of £1.23bn, compared to £811m in 2020 and £1.16bn in 2019. The figures represent a two-year increase of 5.3%. The fourth quarter of 2021 saw sales growth of 0.8% in company-owned stores, though conditions became more challenging after October as consumers responded to the latest Covid-19 variant.
“We enter 2022 with a strong financial position that will support our ambitions to accelerate the rate of growth in our shop estate whilst developing new digital channels and extending the trading day,” says Whiteside. “Whilst conditions in the first few months of 2022 are likely to remain challenging, we are confident that we are well placed to make progress on the many attractive opportunities that lie ahead.”
Roisin Currie, currently retail and property director, will replace Whiteside as chief executive on his retirement.
‘Lucky’ Cadbury customers told to not eat their Creme Eggs
Cadbury is challenging consumers to not eat their limited edition Creme Egg in its latest campaign.
Referring to its classic ‘How do you eat yours?’ campaign, the brand is asking ‘How do you NOT eat yours?’ of customers who find a ‘lucky’ Creme Egg that is half milk chocolate and half white chocolate. The rare eggs are worth up to £10,000 each – but only if they are not eaten.
Developed by VCCP London, the integrated campaign highlights the 146 limited edition eggs that will be in circulation, each offering a prize between £50 and £10,000.
Two 30-second films show consumers struggling with the challenge of not eating their favourite treat, while a radio treatment will see actor and comedian Matt Lucas making a public service announcement-style presentation warning the nation not to eat the eggs.
“We wanted to create a campaign that both honoured the special heritage of the brand whilst injecting some new energy into it,” says Cadbury brand manager Lyndsey Homer. “I’m so excited to se our campaign come to life, and can’t want to see how fans, new and old, react to our cheeky campaign.”
Gymshark launches first global brand campaign
Fitness clothing brand Gymshark has launched its first global brand campaign in a bid to educate consumers about what makes the brand stand out from its rivals.
The purpose-led ‘United We Sweat’ campaign promotes workouts as a place where nobody has to fit any particular stereotype. The brand says it is seeking to bring people together at a time when they are many issues threatening to sow division.
Gymshark athletes and talent, including Latoya Shauntay and UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou, feature in the campaign created by Ultra Brand Studio. They come together to tell their stories of discipline and growth. Filming took place in the UK and US.
“A lot of people learned the name Gymshark in recent times, brand awareness hasn’t really been something we’ve struggled with,” says Gymshark chief brand officer Noel Mack. But brand education, really driving home what makes Gymshark special, that’s what United We Sweat is all about. This is bigger than a brand campaign, it’s about people understanding the power of unity and fitness.
“Since Gymshark’s beginning we’ve been bringing people together under the banner of fitness and conditioning and to this day uniting people plays a huge part of our purpose, and right now we truly believe that unity is needed more than ever.”
Rowse Honey launches ‘most comprehensive’ campaign
Rowse Honey has launched ‘The Squeeze that protects the bees,’ a purpose-led brand campaign focused on the importance of bees to the environment.
The brand describes the integrated campaign as the most comprehensive marketing project in its history. The campaign also highlights the versatility of honey as an ingredient and the work that Rowse does to protect honeybees and bee farming.
The campaign is scheduled to reach more than 20 million UK households on TV channels including Sky, ITV and Channel 4 with a 30-second TV ad, supported by two shorter ads and a feature in BBC Good Food. A point-of-purchase promotion will see 100,000 seed packs given away to help grow more bee-friendly flowers.
The ads see apprentice beekeeper Jim Bliss, at the Lowther Estate in the Lake District, examining the importance of bees.
“The new campaign highlights that by choosing Rowse honey consumers are making a positive contribution to protecting bees around the world. It reflects our passion and commitment to protecting bees and promoting beekeeping, which has a hugely positive impact on the natural environment,” says Rowse Honey marketing director Kirstie Jamieson.
“We know from our consumer research that the centrepiece ad will drive purchase intent with consumers who connect very strongly with its purpose driven environmental message. Through the TV ad and wider campaign, we are continuing to build brand affinity for Rowse and appealing to eco and health-conscious consumers looking to make the right choices by highlighting the quality of our honey and the work we are doing to help create a better, more sustainable world.”
As part of the campaign a team of British chefs and foodies – including influencers and writers – have been styled the Squeeze Collective to develop a selection of dishes to show the versatility of honey as a cooking ingredient.
Wednesday, 5 January
Burger King launches vegan nuggets with aim to become 50% meat-free
Burger King is introducing vegan nuggets to its menu across its UK stores today, as the fast food chain hopes to capitalise on growing demand for plant-based foods.
The business has set a goal of making 50% of its menu meat-free by 2030, an ambition which Burger King says will also help reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 41%. The nuggets, made from soy and plant proteins and certified by the Vegan Society, will join Burger King’s Vegan Royale burger on the menu.
Two years ago Burger King released its first plant-based burger, the Rebel Whopper, but it was later found to be unsuitable for vegans as it was cooked on the same grill as meat.
UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch has described the launch of the vegan nuggets as a “significant milestone” for Burger King and an “important next step” in achieving its meat-free target.
“Adapting to customer preferences is a key focus at Burger King – we are committed to helping our guests make good decisions about what they eat and drink, and providing them with informed choices – whether through clear nutrition and allergen labelling, or by offering vegan and vegetarian options,” he said.
“The launch is another positive step in reducing our carbon footprint and driving innovation in our menus in response to growing demand for meatless alternatives and products with no animal protein in the UK.”
According to the Vegan Society, there were approximately 600,000 vegans in Great Britain in 2019, four times as many as there were in 2014.
In September last year, Burger King rival McDonald’s launched its vegan McPlant burger in the UK, joining its “accidentally vegan” Veggie Dippers among its meat-free options.
KFC is also to permanently bring back the vegan burger it trialled last year, and has announced that it will add Beyond Meat’s meatless chicken to its menus across the US from next week for a limited run.
Weetabix kicks off new year with £1.5m ad campaign
Breakfast cereal Weetabix is encouraging shoppers to choose healthy cereals this year with the early launch of a new advertising campaign, marking the beginning of what the business has called a “big year” for the brand.
The £1.5m campaign will run across TV, video-on-demand, online and social media platforms through January and February, supported by online and in-store shopper marketing.
The creative references on-trend subjects such as plant-based eating, remote working and self-driving cars to inspire a variety of ways to eat Weetabix this year, featuring the campaign line: “New Year, New you-a-bix”.
“Already present in over 6.5 million households, the new TV ad and in-store campaign sees us kick start another big year for Weetabix,” says head of marketing Gareth Turner.
“It builds on our ongoing commitment to driving category sales and supporting healthy choices at such a key time of the year. Once again Weetabix is investing significantly during January and February, and we expect the campaign to help us fill more bowls than ever before.”
At the end of last year, Marketing Week readers crowned Weetabix’s ‘Beans on Bix’ campaign as the best campaign of 2021.
Costing less than £5,000 to execute, the viral tweet controversially suggesting that breakfast eaters try eating baked beans on Weetabix instead of toast became one of the most talked about brand campaigns of the year. The post has been retweeted 37,000 times, quoted 68,800 times and liked 131,000 times.
As a result, Weetabix said its spontaneous brand awareness increased by 40% compared to last year. Plus, the brand saw a 15% increase in sales on Valentine’s weekend as eager customers looked to recreate the breakfast idea. It also picked up the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Best Use of a Small Budget.
Starling encourages small business owners to break free from ‘traditional’ banks
Digital bank Starling is targeting small business owners with the launch of a new advertising campaign, as it looks to expand its 7% share of the UK SME market.
The campaign is the second execution under the bank’s new brand platform ‘Here to Change’. Created by Wonderhood Studios, the four 30-second TV spots that form the ‘Set Your Business Free’ campaign build on the theme of freedom the bank’s previous personal banking campaign began.
Three of the spots focus on individual businesses – a dog groomer, a painter and an entrepreneur working in a co-working space – with the fourth execution featuring a medley of all three. Once they move to Starling, both people and objects begin lifting off the ground as if weightless.
The campaign launches on TV this month during premiership football on Sky, and movies and drama across both Sky and Channel 4. Supporting activity will take place across broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD), with media planned and bought by Electric Glue.
Anne Boden, CEO at Starling Bank, says: “When business owners see the campaign, we want them to feel inspired and enticed by the freedom that banking with Starling can bring them. From no fees to incomparable on-the-go business banking, we’re quietly confident we offer a lot more than the traditional banks.”
Corona unveils world’s first non-alcoholic beer with Vitamin D
Global beer brand Corona is launching a new non-alcoholic beer designed to boost drinkers’ Vitamin D levels during the winter months, in what the brand has said is a “first-of-its-kind” product innovation.
Corona Sunbrew 0.0% claims to contain 30% of the daily value of vitamin D per 330ml and promises consumers they can have ‘Sunshine, Anytime’ in every season.
“As a brand that was born on the beach, Corona embraces the outdoors in everything we do, because we believe that outside is where people best disconnect and relax,” says Felipe Ambra, global vice-president for Corona.
“Now, we’re excited to offer consumers Corona Sunbrew 0.0%, the first non-alcoholic beer with vitamin D, reinforcing our desire to help people reconnect to nature, anytime.”
The new product will first launch in Canada, as the population experiences the time of year with the most limited sunlight. The product will be extended to the UK later this year, followed by markets across the rest of Europe, South America and Asia.
A new integrated campaign has been developed by creative agency David Miami, compiling scenes filmed on a beach in Costa Rica.
According to parent company AB InBev, the launch also demonstrates the business’ commitment to help reduce and prevent harmful use of alcohol, as well as its ability to identify new growth opportunities for its brands.
“After numerous and rigorous trials, Corona Sunbrew 0.0% proudly showcases our ability to find solutions, gaps, and opportunities for growth as a brand,” says Brad Weaver, global vice-president of innovation research and development at AB InBev.
“The journey was not easy as vitamin D is sensitive to oxygen and light, and not easily soluble in water. But thanks to our ongoing investment in innovation and research and development, our team was able to create the only non-alcoholic beer with vitamin D, providing a unique opportunity in the market.”
According to IWSR, the global no/low alcohol category total volume is forecasted to grow by 31% by 2024.
Heineken targets non-drinkers with new global campaign
Heineken is launching a global campaign encouraging non-drinkers to join in with alcohol-focused social occasions this January, with its non-alcoholic beverage positioned as the perfect solution.
‘Cheers with no alcohol. Now you can’ builds on the brand’s previous successful campaign ‘Now you can’, which introduced Heineken 0.0 as an alternative drink for moments that are typically ‘non-beer’ occasions, such as after sport or while at a work lunch.
The new TV campaign takes viewers through history, from Vikings to modern day, highlighting situations in which the person not drinking alcohol is excluded from the group “cheers” moment. Heineken 0.0 is then introduced as a welcome alternative.
Supporting activity will take place across social, digital, outdoor advertising and merchandise items, which will launch in multiple countries throughout 2022.
“With so many of us looking for alternatives to alcohol when at social and evening occasions – especially during periods like Dry January, as is common in many regions – the non-alcoholic beer segment has exploded over the last five years,” says global brand director Bram Westenbrink.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to make sure Heineken 0.0 has been at the forefront of that trend. Having launched Heineken 0.0 in 2017, November 2021 saw us reach a key milestone of distribution across 100 markets, and now we’re keen to help bring even more of our customers along on the journey. After all, it’s about making sure everyone feels included during social drinking moments, even if they are choosing not to drink alcohol.”
Tuesday, 4 January
Coca-Cola boycott urged amid sponsorship of Winter Olympics
Conservative peer Robert Hayward is pledging to lead a boycott of Coca-Cola products over the drinks giant’s sponsorship of the 2022 Winter Olympics set to take place in Beijing next month.
Speaking to the Guardian, Hayward described Coke’s move to profit from an event organised by the Chinese government as “shameless” given the treatment of 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province. Concerns have also been raised recently about the safety of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai after she accused a senior Communist party official of sexual assault.
Hayward is calling on shoppers to boycott all Coca-Cola products, including brands such as Innocent and Fanta. He told the Guardian he was taking the stand against Coca-Cola because the organisation is “dependent” on a good public image, although he has also voiced concern about fellow headline sponsor Procter & Gamble.
A former chief executive of the British Soft Drinks Association, Hayward urged Coke to use the “force majeure” clause in its sponsorship contract to pull out due to China’s actions, claiming that no brand should be “trying to gain kudos” from an event hosted by the Chinese government.
Coke has been a sponsor of the Olympics since 1928, the longest-running, continuous sponsor of both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, P&G announced its 10-year global sponsorship of the Olympic Games in 2010, building on its sponsorship of the US Olympic team. In July 2020 the deal was extended to 2028, with P&G describing the tie-up as a “first-of-its-kind, citizenship-driven partnership” focused on driving equality, inclusion, environmental sustainability and community impact.
Former RBS CMO David Wheldon awarded OBE
Former Royal Bank of Scotland CMO David Wheldon has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to advertising and marketing.
Wheldon retired in March 2020 after a 35-year career in marketing, spanning high profile roles both agency and brand side. He joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 1983, rising from account executive to group account director by 1988. In 1989, Wheldon became a managing partner at WCRS, before being appointed managing director of creative agency Lowe Howard Spink the same year, aged just 32.
By 1993 he had made the move brand side as vice-president and global director of advertising at Coca-Cola, before becoming president of BBDO Europe in 1997.
Two years later, Wheldon became CEO of CIA UK and chairman of Tempus Partners, leading the team that won the Vodafone account. When WPP acquired Tempus in 2002, Wheldon became CEO of Team Vodafone, which he describes as a reinvention of the full-service agency model to coordinate all the WPP companies working for Vodafone.
In 2004 Wheldon moved back brand side as global director of brand at Vodafone, a position he held for almost six years. After founding his own consultancy in 2010, Wheldon rejoined the corporate world in 2012 as head of brand, representation and citizenship at the Barclays Group.
By 2015 he was CMO at RBS, a role which saw Wheldon lead the turnaround of the brand following its near collapse in 2008 and steer the bank back into profitability. He made a conscious decision to focus on the consumer-facing brands, including NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Coutts, campaigning to ensure each had a distinctive point of view.
Wheldon stepped down in 2020 following the rebrand of RBS Banking Group to the NatWest Banking Group, the result of years of recovery work.
He is joined on the Honours List by Julius Wolff-Ingham, head of marketing and fundraising at The Salvation Army, who has been awarded an OBE for services to charitable fundraising.
Wolff-Ingham leads The Salvation Army’s fundraising and marketing department, as well as serving as a trustee of The Royal British Legion Poppy Factory, The Southbank Sinfonia Foundation and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Having spent more than 30 years in the UK charitable sector, Wolff-Ingham worked agency side for almost a decade prior, including at direct marketing agency Brann.
Apple becomes first brand to hit $3tn valuation
Apple has become the first company to reach a stock market valuation of $3tn (£2.2tn), up 5,800% since the first iPhone was unveiled in 2007.
The tech giant is now more valuable than Boeing, Coca-Cola, Disney, Exxon-Mobil, McDonald’s, Netflix and Walmart combined, the Guardian reports, with shares rising by 38% since the beginning of 2021 alone. Apple became the first company to reach a $1tn valuation in 2018 and passed the $2tn mark in 2020.
The company’s fourth quarter results, released in October, show Apple reported record revenue of $83.4bn (£61.8bn), up 29% year on year. The revenue generated from sales of iPhones alone rose by 47% during the period to $38.87bn (£28.8bn). Apple also posted a profit of $20.6bn (£15.2bn) despite Covid supply chain pressures.
The fourth quarter capped off a year of double-digit growth, which CFO Luca Maestri attributed to a combination of “record sales performance, unmatched customer loyalty” and the strength of the Apple ecosystem.
While Apple is the first brand to reach the $3tn milestone, fellow tech giant Microsoft is expected to hit the mark later this year.
Former Bulb CMO Lis Blair joins MoneySuperMarket
Former EasyJet and Bulb Energy CMO Lis Blair has joined MoneySuperMarket as general manager of insurance, marketing and customer.
Blair was appointed CMO by the now defunct renewable energy company Bulb in September 2020, following more than eight years at EasyJet where she rose from head of CRM and insight to CMO. At the time Bulb was the fastest growing firm in Britain and was on a mission to reach 100 million customers worldwide over the next decade.
However, in November Bulb fell into administration, becoming the largest victim of the global energy crisis. The energy company, which at its collapse had 1.7 million customers, was placed into “special administration” meaning it will be run by the government through the regulator Ofgem.
Speaking at the time, Bulb blamed a combination of “skyrocketing” wholesale prices and an “extremely volatile” market for putting pressure on the business. The company explained it had been “exploring fundraising options” as the crisis hit, but the situation spooked investors who were not prepared to proceed while wholesale gas prices were so high.
Prior to her roles at Bulb and EasyJet, Blair served as a marketing consultant at car brand Audi UK and data planning director at Rapiergroup. These positions were preceded by more than five years at Barclays, where Blair rose from senior interactive design manager to head of brand and advertising.
Lloyds Bank poised to take share in loyalty app
The Lloyds Banking Group is reportedly set to take a stake in fintech business Bink, which links customers’ loyalty programmes to their bank cards so they can earn rewards as they shop.
According to Sky News, the bank is close to “investing millions of pounds in return for a minority stake” in Bink. Lloyds is following in the footsteps of Barclays Bank which, after investing £10m in the fintech business, now offers its 7 million UK retail banking customers access to Bink.
The loyalty app, which was set up in 2015, works with retailer partners such as Harvey Nichols and Iceland, as well as food chain Wasabi.
Sky reports that the Lloyds tie-up with Bink will launch in the first half of the year.
Loyalty looks set to be a talking point in 2022, as brands continue to explore how to take their schemes digital. Last year Morrisons unveiled a new loyalty scheme offering customers instant money off, alongside the rollout of the My Morrisons app.
Elsewhere, Virgin launched a new campaign to push its expanded global rewards programme Virgin Red to its 15 million UK customers and retailer Pets at Home saw its active VIP loyalty members increase by 13% to 6.8 million in October, with members outspending other shoppers.
M&S pushes low carbon diets to Sparks members
Marks & Spencer is inviting its 14 million Sparks loyalty customers to try a lower carbon diet, offering members discounts on its meat-free Plant Kitchen range to promote healthier lifestyles.
The two-month ‘Sparking Change National Challenge’ will give loyalty members access to recipes and a Sparks Live cook-along event hosted by M&S chef Chris Baber. Sparks customers will be offered the Plant Kitchen discounts every Monday in January, with M&S supporting the Meat Free Monday campaign to encourage families to go plant-based one day a week.
The focus in February will shift to helping shoppers reduce food waste, offering tips on batch cooking, storing food and how to use leftovers. The retailer’s goal is to help customers save £20 on their weekly food shop.
The 2022 campaign follows on from a nine-week behaviour change pilot, conducted in collaboration with environmental charity Hubbub, which involved 100 M&S customers and employees nationwide. After three months, 90% of participants reported eating less meat and wasting less food, while 73% were cooking from scratch more often and 39% were saving money.
The retailer says the wellness push is in response to customer demand. The M&S Family Matters Report in September found the environment is a growing concern for two-thirds of UK families, while almost half believe the UK should be eating less meat and well over a third say they’ve already made changes to the food they buy to account for climate change.
M&S also sees the Sparking Change Challenge as supporting its “unrelenting focus” on becoming a fully net zero business by 2040, part of the retailer’s Plan A sustainability pledge which was “reset” in September.