M&S bets big on Christmas clothing advertising as consumer demand surpasses pre-pandemic levels
Marks & Spencer is encouraging its apparel and home customers to throw an extraordinary Christmas this year with one of its biggest campaigns ever, as the retailer’s own research reveals that after the disruption of the holiday season the last year, this year means “more than ever” to consumers.
Unveiled today, the spot – created by ODD – features a range of clothing set in a whimsical musical universe, with the ad star dancing through iconic Christmas moments, from shopping for gifts to relaxing on the sofa in family pajamas. It ends with the campaign slogan: âMake the season anything but ordinaryâ.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Anna Braithwaite, marketing director of M&S clothing division, said the campaign was a âmodern take on Christmas nostalgiaâ.
The demand for gifts this Christmas is likely to be unusually strong, as according to M & S’s recent “Family Matters” report, nearly four in ten families (39%) in the UK plan to do more to mark Christmas this year than. ‘before Covid -19 started, when 68% of people plan to get together for a big family Christmas.
While we know that much of the Christmas journey will be online and digital this year, our stores are fundamentally incredibly important to our customers.
Anna Braithwaite, M&S
As a result, customers are already well into planning for the day, with nearly half of those surveyed expecting to have finished shopping for Christmas gifts by the end of November – sooner than the retailer says. ‘observed in the past. âMake your ownâ wreaths, centerpieces and flowers are all already selling âincredibly well,â says M&S.
âWe wanted to take advantage of the fact that it’s not just Christmas Day or the gift, it’s the entire Christmas holiday season that we missed. Go for a Christmas lunch with colleagues, meet up with family, or even do Christmas shopping. These very traditional moments that our clients couldn’t have had, âsays Braithwaite.
âThe idea we came up with showed that what is really important for customers this year is to go back and try to have that beautiful, traditional Christmas. It means more to them than ever.
The campaign is part of M & S’s new âAnything but Ordinaryâ brand platform for its apparel and home businesses, which the retailer launched in September to showcase its fall / winter line. The launch marked M & S’s largest clothing marketing campaign since the start of the pandemic, including its first clothing television ad.
Braithwaite says the retailer will operate the platform throughout the next year, to instill a perception of M&S as âanything but ordinaryâ for style, value and quality. The platform has married âbeautifullyâ with the holiday season, she adds, as M&S hopes to help customers have the best Christmas possible.
Along with the M&S food campaign, clothing and home design will run across a range of channels, TV and print covers at TikTok and activation at Waterloo Station. In TV advertising, video on demand will continue to be ‘key’ as M&S becomes the first UK retailer to use ‘Flowcode’, an innovation that allows a QR code to be embedded in the 30 second version of the 60 second advertisement. Customers can then use the code to immediately purchase the products displayed on the screen.
Braithwaite explains, âWe know our customers often use double filtering and love the technology. Therefore, using âFlowcodeâ means that while they are in the comfort of their own home in front of a big screen, they can directly log into the product and purchase anything in the ad.
While television has âno doubtâ an impact on the brand, M&S is also running a âhugeâ digital campaign, notably on TikTok and Instagram. But Braithwaite is quick to add that the retailer’s stores are still important to the brand, with 60% of sales still made in-store.
âIt will be interesting to see what the balance is this Christmas,â she said. âBut while we know that much of the Christmas journey will be online and digital this year, our stores are fundamentally incredibly important to our customers. We know that they always like to come to the store, that they like to see the product, that they like the customer service.
The customer journey must therefore be “absolutely fluid,” she says, with moments seen in the ad reflected in-store and online with specific gift shops.
The campaign claims a âhugeâ Opportunity to See (OTS), with customers expected to see the ad about 14 times each. According to Braithwaite, this makes the campaign one of the largest ever carried out by M&S for its clothing and home division.
And while the brand hopes to continue building its brand awareness and affinity scores, which Braithwaite says are already “insanely high”, M&S is also keen to keep up with the buzz surrounding the brand after the campaign launches.
She says, âAt the end of the day, it’s been a rough time for retailers, so we need to try to re-establish ourselves in our key categories: knits, dresses, gifts. But for us, it is also the buzz of the brand. M&S is back and we want our customers to like us and notice us.
While M&S launched two separate campaigns this year for its food division and apparel and home business, both share a focus on trust, quality and value. The retailer says both are part of larger efforts to “change perceptions” of the brand, with M&S hoping to improve perceptions of the style.
Along with the launch of its campaigns, M&S is also launching the full in-store and online Christmas gift shop today for clothing, beauty products and food products, which the company says are the top three categories of gifts for the British public.
The performance of the M&S clothing activity has weakened for years, culminating with a decrease in like-for-like sales of 6.2% for the fiscal year ended in March 2020. With Covid which hit the company hard in in the last weeks of the year, the division’s operating profit fell 37% to Â£ 224million.
However, M&S noted a “good recovery” in its clothing and home division this year, with sales up 92.2% from last year. The retailer attributed the success of its move to more focused ranges, fewer promotions and significantly smaller summer sales, resulting in a 9% increase in full-price sales from 2019/20. . Yet revenue was still down 2.6% from pre-Covid results.