What real people think about the M&S brand

Unknown-3Hot on the heels of the various comments on the Christmas advertising barrage, I experienced a real life large focus group yesterday. I was giving a guest lecture at the Business School of Westminster University for their post-graduate students pursuing various MA’s and MBA’s.

The audience was around 80, mainly female, age group around 22-28.

I’d been asked to discuss Brand Differentiation and its business implications via various case studies of brands I have worked with. One of my models of how to assess the life cycle of brand equity strength provoked some interesting comment. In a nutshell it describes brands in various stages of their life from rising stars through to fading stars, summary below.

After the formal bit a discussion began about various brands and the current crop of Christmas advertising. The audience started playing a game on where they might place various brands on the chart.

M&S came in for quite a bit of bashing and the collective view was M&S is a fading star. The verbatims included;
“confused brand”
“for my mum”
“stores are not like the advertising”
“yesterday’s brand”
“trying and failing to be young”

The advertising was liked very much as a production but as someone said “It feels like it should be for a different brand”.

It would have been great to have the top brass of M&S in the room. These were intelligent, articulate, fashionable people and the universal opinion was negative. They were not wishing M&S to fail and fall flat on its face, they felt they should be true to what they are and not try to be something they are not.

It was a fascinating bit of free research from a very large group of the people M&S would like to attract back in to their stores.


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