M&S, veganuary, Army: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From M&S’s move into athleisure to the launch of the Army’s new campaign, catch up on all major marketing news from the first few days of the new decade.

Marks & Spencer athleisure

M&S looks to shed frumpy image with new athleisure range

Marks & Spencer is hoping to shed its frumpy image with a new range of affordable sportswear as it goes after the fast growing athleisure market.

The Goodmove collection includes 150 pieces across a range of products. For example, in leggings, M&S will offer a basic pair for £15 right up to a sculpting pair for £45. In-store experts will help customers pick the right style for their needs.

The new range is being accompanied by a marketing push that focuses on digital and includes social media ads and a campaign on the M&S website and in its stores, as well as a Spotify playlist. Running under the tagline ‘For However You Move’, it also includes female ‘active advocates’ who will test products in the range across activities from a half marathon to the daily school run.

M&S’s clothing marketing director Nathan Ansell says: “Goodmove is the start of a new conversation with our customers around activewear – repositioning it as a wardrobe essential for today’s busy families.

“As a marketing team, our starting point was for whoever you are, we want to help you get up and go and move the way you want and that’s driven a campaign that feels confident, fun and inclusive. Launching as the customer mindset has shifted to the New Year, we want to help the nation get moving in 2020 – with products designed for however customers chose to move – from a walk with the kids to a high intensity class at the gym.”

The launch is part of an attempt by M&S to reposition as a brand for young families and shake off its image as selling clothes for the over-50s. It has been redesigning its fashion and food ranges to widen their appeal.

However, as with many areas, M&S is late to the athleisure trend. While it already sells one in four sports bras in the UK, it has so far failed to cash in on the wider athleisure trend, letting high street rivals steal a march.

Army targets social media addicts and gym bunnys in new campaign

The Army has launched the fourth year of its ‘This is Belonging’ campaign with a marketing push that aims to target social media addicts, gym bunnys and binge drinkers.

Aiming to shake off perceptions of the type of people that can join the Army, the campaign hopes it can inspire a sense of confidence among a fresh generation of potential recruits.

That is part of wider attempts by the Army to challenge the stereotypes around who belongs in the armed force. Rather than focusing on guns, tanks and combats, it looks to show more human experiences.

Capita claims this has proved highly successful, with last year’s campaign driving 95,000 applications in nine months. It also saw the highest number of recruits start basic training in September in the past 10 years.

However, there are critics. The Army might be attracting more recruits but retention remains a major issue. As for all brands, acquisition and retention are two very different challenges and the Army needs to deal with both if Capita’s work is to be seen as successful.

READ MORE: Inside the Army’s plans to promote the ‘transformative’ power of confidence

Brands jump on Veganuary trend

Asda VeganIt’s the time of year when everyone is trying to better themselves, whether that’s hauling yourself for a morning run, giving up alcohol, or cutting down on meat and dairy. However, this year more brands than ever are jumping on the latter trend with Veganuary.

Veganuary, is the not-for-profit movement that encourages people across the world to try a vegan diet for January. The organisation reported that in 2019 alone 200 new vegan products and menus were introduced in January, with this set to rise this year.

The first notable brand cashing in is Greggs with its highly anticipated vegan steak bake. Following on from the success of its vegan sausage roll – which was its best selling new product in 2019 – the brand has launched a meat-free version of its stake bake.

Pret A Manger is also launching its first vegan croissant, while Subway has added a meatless meatball marinara sub sandwich and KFC a vegan burger. Plus Pizza Hut has launched a vegan pepperoni pizza.

Supermarkets are also jumping on board. The Co-op is rolling out a meat-free range while Asda has unveiled 48 vegan products which it claims  are the “most affordable” on the market. Elsewhere, Waitrose & Partners is adding more than 30 new vegan

The rise in popularity of vegan diets is nothing new but interestingly more and more brands are cashing in on fake meat alternatives. Rather than just offering plant-based solutions they are offering vegan alternatives that are intended to replicate meat.

This is something that will continue well into 2020 but as competition grows marketing will become crucial in seeing who comes out as the vegan provider of choice.

READ MORE: Co-op rolls out meat-free range as brands cash in on Veganuary

Asda puts focus on quality in new year marketing push

Despite various efforts over the years to improve its quality credentials, this is still an area where Asda has a perception problem.

YouGov BrandIndex data shows Asda sitting 11th on a ranking of perceptions of supermarket quality with a score of just 13.2. That is behind all its major rivals and even Sainsbury’s Local and Ocado.

To try to improve this, Asda is talking about quality in its marketing once again. But where previously it has tended to do this around Christmas, it is making it a core part of its new year messaging.

The new ‘Don’t Compromise’ campaign aims to show that customers are not settling for less by shopping at Asda and that they can have low prices and good quality. It also aims to differentiate from Aldi and Lidl by highlight both own-brand and branded products.

Quality is a key area of opportunity for Asda and shifting perceptions here is key to boosting sales. But there are no quick fixes here and Asda will need to keep pushing this message if it wants to change customers’ views.

READ MORE: Asda tells customers ‘don’t settle for less’ in new campaign

Public Health England and The FA team up on mental health campaign

PHE-FAPublic Health England and The FA have teamed up on a campaign that aims to get the country thinking more about mental health.

A short film narrated by the Duke of Cambridge and featuring some of football’s biggest names, including Frank Lampard, Harry Maguire and Alex Scott, will be played across football stadia this weekend. It will see all the matches in the FA Cup third round start a minute late in order for the video to be played.

The campaign aims to use the popularity of football to encourage fans to take action on their mental health, with a particular focus on men. Of the more than 15 million football fans in England, 69% are men. Research shows that men in England are less likely than women to seek help or take self-care actions for early signs of common mental health concerns.

The 60-second delay to kick-off might be a symbolic gesture but is one that should raise awareness of mental health among a typically hard-to-reach group. And while it is just a small step, hopefully it gets more people thinking and talking about their mental health.

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