John Lewis, Three, Ovo: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all the marketing news this week including Three’s 5G debut, Ovo’s sustainable marketing strategy and the surprising results of YouGov’s annual brand health ranking.

John Lewis and Waitrose

Retailers lead brand health ranking

We have become all too used to headlines lamenting the death of the high street in recent years, and with good reason.

Yet YouGov’s latest annual BrandIndex health rankings reveal the top three healthiest brands in the UK are all retailers – each with very different brands and propositions.

While John Lewis, this year’s number one, survives on reputation, Ikea takes second place because it is seen as good value for money – something John Lewis scores low on.

Meanwhile, despite Marks & Spencer closing stores apace to offset its financial woes, it is still considered the third-healthiest brand in the UK.

‘Health’ is measured as an average of a brand’s impression among Brits, as well as value, quality, reputation and satisfaction scores and whether people would recommend the brand.

What this shows is that in spite of the plethora of store closures and administrations that are going on, some brands are still holding up for a number of reasons, and perhaps there is less of a link between a brand’s financial performance and its overall ‘health’.

As both BBC One and BBC iPlayer disappear from the top 10 – a likely consequence of the decision to axe free licence fees for over 75s – it shows how quickly perceptions of a brand can change and how fragile a brand’s health is, no matter how much legacy it has behind it. EH

READ MORE: John Lewis, Ikea and M&S top UK brand health rankings

Three enters 5G market

Three switched on its 5G service this week, which it debuted with an immersive ‘living room of the future’ in collaboration with designer Henry Holland.

Using its flagship store on Oxford Street as a showcase, the augmented reality experience has been designed to help customers imagine what a connected 5G home might look like.

This includes an AI assistant which gives the ‘shopping experience of the future’, asking if customers would like an exclusive peak at an item from House of Holland’s upcoming collection.

Once the shopping order is made, they enter a fully immersive spaceship gaming battle before their shopping order appears by drone at their living room window.

It’s the stuff of science fiction, and depending on your view on things, is either very exciting or terrifying.

Too often the promise of 5G feels like an abstract concept that promises to revolutionise the world we live in, but without any real-world practical application.

Three has been clever to partner with the fashion world to show how its technology could impact customers beyond mobile. Which is part of its long-term strategy, as its marketing boss Shadi Halliwell, who joined almost two years ago, told Marketing Week earlier this week:

“Three has always had a very strong brand identity in the market; it’s always had that disruptor attitude. It was never about recreating, it was about taking the legacy and bringing it forward a bit, modernising it and really trying to position it out of the industry.” EH

READ MORE: How Three is positioning the brand beyond mobile

Ovo says it won’t get its sustainable marketing strategy right the first time

There’s so much consciousness around climate change but we often overlook some of the easiest steps we can take to make a difference. At least, that’s the mantra being adopted at Ovo Energy.

The energy provider plans to reduce its carbon impact, starting with marketing. Its new strategy aims to put the focus on sustainability rather than visibility, and will see the company prioritise digital marketing over the likes of doorstops while digital outdoor will be powered by renewable energy.

The company will also implement a no-flights policy, unless absolutely necessary, and is working alongside The Carbon Trust to devise a suitable carbon offsetting strategy where renewable will also be a requirement for any energy used in creating content. And if that’s not possible then carbon use will be offset.

Sounds complex? That’s probably because it is.

Ovo’s Sarah Booth, director of brand and marketing, is transparent about the whole thing at least. She says there’s absolutely no way they will get it right the first time but they are eager to learn from mistakes and the journey alone.

Surprisingly, Ovo isn’t interested in being a lone wolf in this space but welcomes competition to join the movement.

Booth explains: “When we think about the climate crisis, we must think collectively and not competitively.”

Too right. This is a battle that cannot be won alone and needs the power of the masses.

CC: British Gas. EL

READ MORE: ‘We must think collectively, not competitively’: Inside Ovo’s sustainable marketing strategy

Facebook to open privacy cafes in UK

Would you take diet advice from McDonald’s, or smoking advice from Marlboro, or Brexit advice from David Cameron? No? How about privacy advice from Facebook?

In its latest move to try and make it all OK after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and numerous other data breaches, Facebook is opening a number of pop-up ‘privacy cafes’ across the UK where users can get help and advice on how to change their privacy settings.

All in the time it takes to make a cup of coffee, according to Facebook.

This was followed by Facebook unveiling its ‘clear history’ tool, which Zuckerberg promised over a year ago after the Cambridge Analytica story broke. For the first time people can see which apps and businesses are sending collected data to Facebook and choose to ‘disconnect’ the information if they wish.

But not actually delete their history, as ‘clear history’ suggests. Facebook still has the data, it’s just anonymised.

It all feels a bit smoke and mirrors. All mouth and no trousers. Headline-grabbing while not really doing anything at all.

Facebook’s entire platform is built on data. And with six million advertisers pumping cash into the platform, does Facebook really want to do anything that might jeopardise that? It’s going to take a lot more than a few privacy cafes to convince us otherwise. EH

READ MORE: Would you take privacy advice from Facebook?

Discount supermarkets come out on top amid grocery sales slump

AldiThe battle for the top supermarkets has seen discount brands Lidl and Aldi reign supreme, with Lidl’s market share reaching a record high as its sales growth beat the big four supermarkets.

According to the latest grocery market share figures, published by Kantar, Lidl’s sales increased by 7.7% to give it a record market share of 5.9% over the past 12 weeks. Meanwhile, sales at Aldi increased by 6.2%, supported by sales of bakery products, up 11%, and biscuits, up 13%.

However, this success was not replicated by the big four supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – which all saw a slump in sales, meaning year-on-year supermarket sales were flat during the 12 weeks to 11 August.

Morrisons recorded the biggest fall in sales, down 2.7%, followed by Tesco, down 1.6%, and Asda, down 1.5%.

It appears consumers are valuing price over brands, with Tesco doing well on its cheaper own brand lines. Sainsbury’s also saw a smaller dip of 0.6% compared to the other supermarkets, which was boosted by promotions. Again, this shows the growing role price is playing in driving consumers’ shopping habits. MF

READ MORE: Lidl’s market share hits a record high



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  1. Valentin V 26 Aug 2019

    An curious point that there might be less of a link between a brand’s financial performance and its overall ‘health’.

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