Marks & Spencer is a British multinational retailer selling clothing, home products, and food. The company was founded in 1884 and had over 1,000 stores in over 40 countries (Bower, 2005). The customer for Marks & Spencer is anyone who needs or wants clothing, home products, and food. However, the target market for Marks and Spenser is middle- to upper-class individuals looking for high-quality products (Bower, 2005). The company has a wide variety of products for different customer needs and is well-known for its high-quality and stylish products.
Customer’s want the wide range of products offered at affordable prices and with good quality. Other buyers seek proper shopping experiences where they can get a variety of goods at low prices. The competition in the category is intense, with many high-street retailers offering similar yields. Marks and Spenser is a company currently facing several problems, like improving its image and regaining customer trust (Bower, 2005). The company faces high debts, the closure of stores and high-profile accounting scandals in recent years. The company is also facing increased competition from several other retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the U.K. and Walmart and Target in the U.S. (Bower, 2005). This is putting pressure on the company’s margins and market share.
The company is struggling match the competition, and its sales have declined recently. In addition, the company has been accused of being too slow to adapt to changing consumer trends. The company has also been reported to have low innovation techniques, unable to provide consumers with what they require. The company must figure out how to regain its competitive edge and boost sales. Additionally, Marks and Spenser needs to find ways to keep up with changing consumer needs. Otherwise, the company risks further decline (Bower, 2005). However, Marks and Spenser still has a competitive advantage in its firm brand name and reputation, as well as its wide variety of product offerings, and utilize that to regain its success.
The business model for Marks and Spencer is a mix of online and brick-and-mortar retailing, with an emphasis on quality products and customer service. The company has a wide range of merchandise, including clothing, home goods, and food, and it also offers personal shopping and styling services (Bower, 2005). Following its model, the form has employed various marketing strategies in its activities, which has caused the company some successes and failures.
One business activity that promoted the success of Marks & Spenser was the selection of the best quality products to present in the markers. It had fashionable clothing covering children, men and women, which increased its market share. The great value maintained by the firm encouraged Marks & Spenser suppliers to present its products at decreased prices, benefiting them and the company in the process (Bower, 2005). The marketing concept depicted here is product differentiation, which was adequately used to promote customer satisfaction.
Moreover, managers held weekly meetings to analyze business proceedings and take and verify the quality of the various foodstuffs before releasing them for sale. This ensured the firm maintained proper product supply, keeping them on top of their competitors and following the customer preference strategy (Bower, 2005). These activities were in line with the marketing concepts of product and production, which when applied correctly, gained a lot of customers for the company.
Globalization was a strategy that benefited Marks & Spenser in many ways. The company adopted the M&S charge card policy, which was more reliable in accomplishing sales than the previous cash and checks policy. The card eliminated the 2-4% charges imposed on other types of payments, attracting more buyers (Bower, 2005). This allowed customers to pay for products more conveniently, increasing sales. Scott & Walker (2017) suggested that Marks and Spenser adopted the mass retail technique, making considerable financial returns from it. Thus, the idea of expansion to foreign markets was in line with marketing and selling, key marketing concepts ensuring business continuity that were well utilized by the firm to a certain extend.
Strong Brand Identity
Marks & Spenser had acquired a strong brand identity, which made it have a considerable customer base in most excellent retail firms in the U.K. The company also has a strong reputation for customer service, reflected in its free home delivery service and 100-day satisfaction guarantee (Bower, 2005). Moreover, the firm’s commitment to sourcing the best possible ingredients for its food products and designing and manufacturing its clothing added to its brand significance, which was critical to its success. This was a marketing concept utilized by Marks and Spenser to retain customers and acquire new ones per the requirements of the 7Ps of the marketing mix model.
One of the critical problems Marks & Spencer has faced in recent years is a lack of innovation and creativity in terms of its product offerings and store experience, because of poor understanding of customer needs. This has made the company less attractive to consumers, particularly younger shoppers, who are more likely to be drawn to more exciting and dynamic retail experiences (Bower, 2005). The company failed to utilize proper market research, which lowered the number of people interested in its products (Bower, 2005). Thus, the overall sales were reduced, and the company’s revenues drastically decreased.
Overreliance on Discounts and Promotions
Besides, to drive traffic and sales, Marks & Spencer has increasingly relied on promotions and discounts. However, this strategy has not been successful in generating sustainable growth and has led to a deterioration in the company’s margins. The company has been plagued by stock shortages, which have caused frustration among customers and damaged the company’s reputation for reliability (Bower, 2005). The firm had not accounted for its market share as it was developing, failing to meet the technique of market analysis.
Poor Market Mix
The firm’s marketing mix has been ineffective recently, particularly in product and promotion. Marks & Spencer has been criticized for declining levels of customer service. This has been a problem in its stores, where customers have complained of long queues, unhelpful staff, and a generally poor shopping experience (Bower, 2005). The company has been slow to adapt to changing consumer tastes and has failed to invest in marketing its products in a way that would generate excitement and drive sales. Competitors rose in this market gap and raked up much of the customer base once enjoyed by Marks & Spencer (Bower, 2005). This was due to poor consideration of Porter’s Five Forces, where it didn’t consider those other companies could challenge its activities and gain its market.
The firm needs to become more attractive to consumers, which requires high innovation and creativity. This can be done by developing new and exciting product offerings and creating a more engaging store experience. The firm can invest in in-store design and layout, and customer service. Market research is an essential tool that can help Marks & Spencer to understand consumer needs and preferences. According to Dwivedi et al. (2021), the company can utilize social media marketing research techniques to understand customer behaviors and engagement in defining their preferences. Thus, the firm can provide products tailored to particular wants of the buyers.
The company’s marketing mix needs to be reviewed to make it more effective. In particular, more focus needs to be placed on product and promotion by adopting celebrity endorsement. The company needs to adapt to changing consumer tastes and invest in marketing its products to generate excitement and drive sales. Majid (2020) suggests that using recognized, trusted and attractive celebrities to advertise products attracts a large market. Choosing the correct famous people to advertise Marks and Spenser products would capture the market of the younger generation.
Supply Chain Management
Improving supply chain management is essential for Marks & Spencer to resolve the issue of stock shortages. The company can achieve this by ensuring that sufficient stock levels are maintained at all times and by improving communication with suppliers. The company should listen to the voice of its suppliers, cater for sick pay of its workers, and offer better wages to the various people in their supply chains (Fowler et al., 2021). By keeping the workforce in the supply chains satisfied, it would ensure continuity of their stores to meet demand levels, and Marks & Spencer can avoid situations where stock levels run low.
Digital marketing will help Marks & Spencer to reach a wider audience and promote its products more effectively. By investing in digital marketing, the company will be able to get consumers through a variety of channels, including social media, search engine optimization, and online advertising (Dwivedi et al., 2021). This will help to increase awareness of the company’s products and drive sales. The marketing mix model supports digital marketing, as it aims to capture one of the critical elements essential for success, that is, promotion.
Bower, J. L. (2005). Marks & Spencer: The Phoenix Rises. Harvard Business School.
Dwivedi, Y. K., Ismagilova, E., Hughes, D. L., Carlson, J., Filieri, R., Jacobson, J., Jain, V., Karjaluoto, H., Kefi, H., Krishen, A. S., Kumar, V., Rahman, M. M., Raman, R., Rauschnabel, P. A., Rowley, J., Salo, J., Tran, G. A., & Wang, Y. (2021). Setting the future of digital and social media marketing research: Perspectives and research propositions. International Journal of Information Management, 59, 102168.
Fowler, P., Wallace, B., & Wilshaw, R. (2021). Working in Marks and Spencer’s food and footwear supply chains. Oxfam.
Majid, J. (2020). The power of celebrity as a medium of coercing behaviour-A Marks and Spencer’s case study. Journal of Business and Social Science Review, 1(3), 29-38.
Scott, P., & Walker, J. T. (2017). Barriers to ‘industrialisation’ for interwar British retailing? the case of Marks & Spencer Ltd. Business History, 59(2), 179–201.