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Industry: Retail

19.Marks & Spencer

Index score: 11

M&S, founded in 1884, is still one of the most respected British brands. It was voted the UK’s most authentic brand according to Cohn and Wolfe’s Authentic 100 report and came second in the YouGov BrandIndex for the company people would be proudest to work for.

Despite these accolades, the company continues to suffer a drop in like-for-like sales and each quarter sees a sharper decline than the last.

With this backdrop how does this Superbrand fare with engagement and collaboration with its customers?

Strategy is on the right footing

Strategically, M&S is shifting towards digital-first rather than relying on more conventional media to drive its campaigns. For example, it is investing a fifth of its media budget in social media. This is coupled with a focus on content and storytelling to reach consumers with a more personalised and targeted message.

The What's New at M&S campaign marks the first time the brand has used dedicated social-first video content in its food marketing, which will see celebrities taste-test its new products each month.

lets talk about the weather

Their strategy does not seem to have space for what we believe is real engagement or even driving meaningful conversations with its customers. Everyone has an opinion or would like a share a story about the food they eat or clothes they wear, yet the brand does not provide a platform for this with its social media channels.  

An audit of one of its driving channels finds conventional broadcasting messages, which are very sales focused and seasonally driven, with the weather making it one of the most discussed topics by the brand on Twitter. How very British.

Rhetorical is not engaging

More recently, the brand has adopted the art of rhetorical questions in its Tweets and we were left wondering if this was a strategy to engage or something else?

 The company acknowledges that people ‘share food favourites with family and friends on social media’, which is the reason behind a celebrity strewn ‘TV programme’ in its social channels discussing latest M&S food and recipes. How does that really engage or co-create stories with its customer base? This retailer predominantly views customers as loyal recipients rather than natural collaborators.

What could M&S co-create to reverse its FTSE fortune?