Marks and Spencer (M&S) has approximate 300 stores worldwide and it is one of the largest retailers in the United Kingdom (UK). M&S provides a variety of products such as footwear, clothing, gifts, furniture, and food. It also expanded its business in Europe, Hong Kong, and Canada. Additionally, M & S has many franchises in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, the Bahamas, and Bermuda etc. (Mark and spencer, 2016)
Mark and spencer entered Singapore in1958 and have launched 10 stores. it produces high quality food, clothing and home products. But the business in Singapore is not profitable due to the rise of the rivals. Moreover, the company couldn’t satisfy its consumer’s wants and needs. Consequently, M&S closed one store in Centre point on 29th March 2015. (Alnabhan, 2016)
In this paper, I’m going to focus on lady clothing sector of M in Singapore. I will present the current issues, which are related to the branding of the company and also present my recommendations to help the
Hendriksz, 2016) Recently, M revenue in clothing declined. It’s total sells slipped down from 15.5% in 2010 to 8.7% in 2015 in the UK. One of the main reasons leading M&S revenue fall down is that majority of women think M&S clothing is very unfashionable and of mature design (Snowden, 2018). The statistic presents that M&S lost a big market of young women population in Singapore. Consequently, the people recognize M&S as a mature brand.
Based on the statistical research of Singapore population clock, (2018) Singapore has 2,970,560 women. According to statistical research (MOH in Singapore), the proportion of women population in 2016 was 6.8% for age 65 and above and 36.7% for age 15-64 years. Therefore, M&S should target carrying a majority of women clothing varieties for younger women rather than for older women due to a higher proportion of young women population in Singapore.
For purpose of solving the current issues, which are related to the brand, I would apply the brand equity model and propose that M&S creates new women fashion-clothing brand.
Brand equity is defined as a tangible and intangible value as recognized by its customers. The company has a high brand name and status when it can deliver high quality goods or services to its customers. Any bad quality of products or services would lead to negative impact on the brand name. The brand equity can be identified by four key elements as below (figure1) (Crescitelli,2018).Brand awareness is the recognition of the consumers with the brand. The more people know about the brand the higher brand awareness. It proves the high accessibility of the brand in the customer’s mind. The second critical element of brand equity is perceived value, which represents the overall customer’s perception and it is more likely related to the brand image rather than the actual quality (Crescitelli,2018). A firm can’t determine perceived quality because it is based on the customer’s perception. Customers buy the products because they believe that the brand is worth for their decision.
In contrast, brand association is the way company creates its brand image stay in consumer’s mind. The firm should create a positive image in its customer’s mind such as comfortable, convenient, sophisticated, luxurious and so on. For instance, people think that Rolex is a brand of luxury and success. The last important element is Brand loyalty, which is the way of customer’s behavior or attitude with a particular brand. The loyal customer keeps buying products or services overtimes and their decisions is based on the brand name rather than the price (Aaker, D.A. and Biel, A. 1992).
Social media as Facebook is one of a good tool to increase customer awareness because it has 3.4M Singaporean users in 2017. It is an essential channel to engage more customers. In Nov 2015, Facebook offered a beacon program. It provides a store where a retailer can engage its consumers. M can interact with its buyer individually when the buyers visit the store via a Facebook app. Moreover, a customer can easily share their experience with their friends on face book about the products/services.
Customers can share their positive experience by WOM (Word of Mouth) (Shahid, 2017) through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. M can use social media to grow its revenue as well as greatly improve brand recognition (Seral, 2015).
To increase customer perceived value, M should invest in improving its women clothing assortments that have been reported to have strange sizes, matured designs and poor color options (Espiner and Atkinson, 2016).
For improving Brand association, M should consider including designer clothing line for younger women segment through the new brand which can change the company’s image, and make customers believe that they can get the high quality fashionable and designer clothing at M&S.
M&S recently conducted the campaign called “Life. Spend it well”. The campaign video is 60s long and it concentrates on attitude and empowerment. The purpose of new campaign is about changing people’s attitude about M and getting back its position. (Tan, 2018)
Customer loyalty brings most finance for the business. Beside maintaining the high quality products, M should offer a good customers service where customer can interact with the company quickly and easily. A good customer service can increase trust and satisfaction of customer by showing its care about customer experiences and concerns.
Additionally, M can improve its loyalty program. Loyalty Customers should not only enjoy the rewards from the company for their shopping but they should also be given special gifts such as birthday cake, discount coupons or shopping vouchers. Improved loyalty program can help M maintain its loyal customers by engaging their interest on rewards and even attract newer customers.
3 Omni Chanel of M in Singapore
Currently, M in Singapore is operating a business by a single channel, which is brick and mortar retail. According to BBC news, (2016) M revenue collapsed and it lost the market share to other rivals who are using a multi-channel platform. There are several reasons that led to decline in M over the period.
Firstly, M’s website can’t attract customer come to the physical store after they browse on the site, because the website can’t push from customer’s web experience to physical’s experience (Shackleton, 2016). Secondly, the traditional store has limited operating time, thereby M&S losing its consumers who prefer shopping online platform where the buyers can shop 24/7 with a competitive price. Additionally, traditional business requires numbers of physical stores in the centre as well as hiring more staff that create a high-cost expense for the companies. (Hudson, 2017) Omni channel is interactive channels and mass communication channels. The business offer goods and services to customers via various channels such as mobile devices, messengers, email, store online website, apps, social media, and so on. The Internet is a one of the essential requirement, which is needed for applying the Omni channel model. Singapore has high numbers of people are using the Internet. The proportion of Singaporean users hit 22%(2016), with a high number of 800,000 new people starting using social media (Tan, 2017). As a result, Omi channel has high potential in Singapore’s market.
The diagram presents the various channels, which are my recommendations for M. Additionally, I would analyze these new platforms, which use to apply to the M’s business model. How they benefit from M&S’s business on purpose of improving its current issues.
(Verhoef,2015) The firm can offer mobile device in the physical store, for instance, tablets. The buyers can use this device to look for their variety of choices via firm’s website. The retailers also can create a self-serve online by building the Kiosks inside the stores. More conveniently, the retailers can interact with the consumers via mobile devices and understand consumer’s behavior. This method can help M increase number of customers visit to the stores more regularly, because it push in store customer experiment. Customer can see the physical products and read the detail descriptions before they purchase. It is a great tool to connect the consumers from online to offline shopping (Steers, 2012)
Recently, Mobile apps make watching television more interactive, because it engages more viewers watching advertisement through mobile apps. It also creates various experiences in every TV show. It is possible that adverting information connected with interactive channels in the same way.
Additionally, using the mobile app can engage customer purchase more products by offering them rewards, the more they click to purchase the more rewards they can earn. It does not only benefit for M but also can satisfy loyal consumers for a long run.
(Verhoef,2015) Normally, the channels of one way and two way of communication will be combined together in the Omni channel, hence it is critical to scope all the channels by adding customer touch points which are a convenient tool for customer contact the firms anytime after or before their payments (Waack, 2017).
The buyers can interact with the firm by short duration, interactive channels or only one way of communication. The communication can be more general or more intensive. By using the app that helps M delivers to customers the awareness of interaction with its brand through regular communication. Creating trust in customer would gain tremendous outcomes for M in a long run.
Especially, touch point can connect customer to customer, because they can leave their reviews and interact with each other about their experiments of the products or services (Heisler,2016).
Additionally, M can also get the feedback information from its customers quickly to improve its products. Moreover, touch point can increase customer trust on its products once its consumers share their satisfaction with the products.
M in Singapore has been facing many externals and internals issues that influence its brand image. Using the brand equity model, M will improve its internal issues and changing customers brand awareness, have a better customer attitude about the brand name, and increase brand loyalty through positive experiences with M products and services.
Additionally, one of biggest issues of M in Singapore is single channel, which could be solved by using Omni channel model. The consumers can enjoy variety of platforms for their convenient shopping as well as better experiences in the physical stores. It also helps M face the competition.
However, it needs investments in technology, logistics, and management system to make the strategic recommendations in this paper successful.