‘We need to be brave’: John Lewis reveals ‘For All Life’s Moments’ rebrand
After killing its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan last month, John Lewis has revealed a new positioning and ad campaign that it hopes will revitalize the brand in the face of economic uncertainty.
John Lewis, For All Life's Moments
The John Lewis Partnership has been on a turnaround mission since before the pandemic. After racking up significant losses over the past five years, it set the mighty task of reaching profits of £400m by 2025.
As part of the much-needed U-turn orchestrated by chair Sharon White, the retailer had tabled a move away from its 97-year-old, much-loved – but financially problematic – ’Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan-cum-price-promise back in 2020. It subsequently registered a host of potential replacements with the Intellectual Property Office, including ’John Lewis: Life is beautiful’, ’For hopes and dreams: John Lewis’, ’For the joy of life: John Lewis’ and ’John Lewis: For all life’s moments’.
“People shop with you because of what your brand stands for,“ explains Claire Pointon, who became the retailer’s first customer director earlier this year. “And I felt that every question I’ve had since I’ve been here was about ‘Never Knowingly Undersold‘. That was a price promise. But what we needed was a clear brand positioning to show the role we played in people’s lives.”
In the end, it has plumped for ‘For All Life’s Moments’, and today (5 September) revealed one of the most significant brand shifts in recent history to future-proof itself against the cost of living crisis.
Pointon tells The Drum that this new positioning sets the brand up to be considered the go-to for both big gifting occasions like birthdays, weddings and (of course) Christmas, as well as day-to-day shopping for clothing and homeware.
But to achieve this, it also needed to connect the branding with more aggressive pricing. The retailer has committed to pumping £500m into lowering prices this year – £100m more than in 2021 – to highlight to customers its “everyday quality and value”. Some of that budget has gone into expanding its own-brand range, Anyday, which has given it greater control of pricing across a broader range of categories since last year's launch. On the back of its success, the retailer has doubled down on that effort with the roll-out of another new namesake John Lewis brand.
“‘For All Life‘s Moments‘ is not a slogan; it’s an end line communicating to a customer what we stand for. But it’s as important internally so that we’re very clear on the moments we want to win at, and the products, services and experiences that connect to those moments,” she says on how it will connect the dots.
”Plus how we make sure pricing is relevant for those moments – the new positioning very much sharpens the business decision making.”
And, arguably, it needed sharpening. Before the pandemic hit, John Lewis had suffered years of declining profits. A profit warning in 2018 led to a rebrand of John Lewis and Waitrose to John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners, plus the trial of another strapline – ‘For Us, It’s Personal’ – to better convey its ’partnership’ model.
But the numbers continued to go in the wrong direction. Chair Sharon White’s arrival in February 2020 came with a cutthroat turnaround plan that has already seen operating costs slashed, a reduction in management staff numbers in stores and its central teams, as well as the shuttering of underperforming stores to great effect. Today, losses are no longer mounting.
Yet the brand still finds itself in a testing place as it enters what will be one of the most fraught economic conditions for British retailers in recent history. According to YouGov BrandIndex data given to The Drum looking at sentiment towards John Lewis between January 1, 2021, and September 1, 2022, it's struggling to win over customers.
The data shows that its ’Value for Money’ scores fell from 18.4 to 13.0 (-5.4) while its ’Recommend’ scores fell from 40.9 to 34.8 (-6.1).
Index scores – a measure of overall brand health – declined from 42.7 to 37.1 (-5.6) while ’Purchase Intent’, which asks consumers which brands they’d be most likely to purchase from, declined from 13.6 to 9.3 (-4.3). Also in the red were scores for ’Satisfaction’, which declined from 42.2 to 37.1 (-5.1), and ’Current Customer’ scores, which fell from 14.5 to 11.2 (-3.3).
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“We needed to revitalize – we have a huge amount of brand love, but we really need to drive consideration and frequency,” admits Pointon of its brand health. “We’ve certainly seen new customers coming into the brand. And we’ve seen an uplift in terms of relevancy. This is a stake in the ground for our future direction."
Cementing the shift in direction is a major new campaign from its long-term ad shop Adam&EveDDB. The advert, to be released later this week, tells the story of a family.
“It’s a different view; a father’s story,“ explains Pointon. “It’s about a child he brings home and shows the moments up until the age of five. You see the highs and lows of life with family. The tonality is real and emotional.“ Each of these moments is depicted with a John Lewis product in shot.
Pointon declines to reveal the budget it has earmarked for this crucial campaign, which has significant sales targets attached, but says it will have sizeable spend going on TV, social and print.
In-store, it is putting the new John Lewis range of products front and center with a new store format that will “inspire customers to shop by real-life moments across categories rather than traditional product departments“.
"We’re launching in very difficult times,“ concludes Pointon. “I’m not naive about that. But what gives me confidence is that people go to brands they trust in a recession. To be brave, you have to be clear on what you stand for. You have to be clear on the role you play in people’s lives.“