Marks and Spencer (M&S) is the brand that British women have the best impression of according to new analysis. This is despite a tumultuous period for the retailer that last year saw it suffer its biggest fall in clothing sales since the 2008 banking crisis.
The research by YouGov analysed the ‘Impression’ score (which of the brands do you have a favourable impression of?) for 10 brands including Boots and John Lewis over the 52 weeks to 31 January 2017. M&S topped the list with +58, ahead of fellow retail favourite, John Lewis, which has a score of +54.
The results are interesting given the major marketing changes the brand has implemented in an attempt to revive its flagging clothing business. For its 2016 Christmas campaign, the retailer shifted tactics again to try to reach ‘Mrs M&S’ after the previous year’s modern and fast-paced Christmas campaign fell flat, with customers left feeling “detached”.
To give it credit, M&S did see a surprise boost in overall clothing sales thanks largely to the Christmas period, something that could set the stage for the brand’s upcoming revamped marketing strategy, which is being developed in partnership with WPP shop Grey. But the brand needs to prove it is the start of a recovery rather than a fortuitous outcome of a reporting period that included festive sales.
“M&S is the most inconsistent business on the high street,” David Parry, chief operating officer of independent global brand, innovation and experience consultancy Saffron, told The Drum. “On one hand, the food offer is premium, eclectic, and contemporary; a marvel of the modern world. SpaceX could put one on the moon, and it wouldn't feel out of place. On the other hand, the clothing offer is mumsy, fusty, and fashion-backwards. Its marketing has improved but its merchandising has not. The supply chain is, we hear, the main culprit, but whatever the reason, it's like visiting the 1980s.”
Despite this, brand affection remains strong, with M&S occupying a “very similar space to Radio 4 and the National Trust in Britain's psyche,” added Parry.
Elsewhere, Tesco was the brand women had the most improved impression of over the last year, up 13 points and continuing a trend that has been steadily been improving since 2015. YouGov said the upturn is due to several reasons, including the strategy that chief executive Dave Lewis has implemented – with a focus on both price and quality.
“Additionally, a sustained period out the headlines has allowed the brand to recover,” Michael Stacey, director of YouGov BrandIndex told The Drum. This is reflected in the improvement in its Buzz score (whether people have heard anything positive or negative about the brand). This measure has increased by almost 40 points among women since the start of 2015.”
Take a look at the list of brands featured in the study below.