Round up, round up: it’s a marketing match
It’s round one in the Nutcracker marketing match.
In the left corner we have that old familiar security blanket, Knowing Your Audience.
And in the right corner we have more of an unknown entity for some brands, Brave Expansion.
But who will win..?
Heavyweight champion: Brave Expansion
You may have seen in the news that Marks & Spencer have decided to sponsor ITV’s long-standing talent competition, Britain’s Got Talent. And you may then have questioned their motives on this, or at least done a double-take. We certainly did at Nutcracker, as the two don’t seem a perfect match at first glance. With one being a prime time, down to earth show, and the other more of a premium, established retailer, the connection feels a little muddled.
However, it could be argued that Marks & Spencer are taking a brave step away from their perceived demographic and branching in to an unknown territory. But a territory that could boost their revenue by thousands if not, millions. By shifting stubborn perceptions of their brand, the 135-year-old retailer could widen its market and open up to a much broader and bigger audience of the 11.2 million that tune in to watch BGT.
Marks & Spencer are fully aware that their food section holds the most appeal (and money) in their business. So, by capitalising on an audience who want to buy sandwiches when they fill up during a journey, or pick up some flowers at the services on a busy motorway, it could be argued that they are on to a winner. And by branching out even further, remaining agile and diversifying their audience, they surely can’t lose. Well, unless they begin to alienate their current audience.
Heavyweight champion: Knowing Your Audience
There’s a very thin line between successfully branching out to new audiences while not making your current, committed audience feel disenchanted and disconnected from your brand. And this is where Marks & Spencer must tread the tightrope carefully.
By having a really focussed understanding of who they want to reach, with a targeted list, Marks & Spencer could drill further down on their current and expanding demographic rather than broadening and potentially diluting brand appeal. This new sponsorship, with a focus around family-friendly meals, could have a different impact on Marks & Spencer by ‘de-premiumising’ the brand which, in reality is premium, and runs the risk of neither appealing to new demographics while also disengaging its loyal customers.
To break it down, in terms of quality, Asda ranks at 8.3 while Marks & Spencer currently stands at 59, with the likes of Sainsbury’s and Aldi in the middle. A vast difference, certainly. And with Marks & Spencer focussing on short term sales and quick wins via ITV, their figures could soon slide if existing customers begin to turn towards other premium brands such as Waitrose.
Food for thought
We can only speculate if this brave move will work in the retailer’s favour, and who should win the marketing match. But we also know that Marks & Spencer are working in a challenging retail climate, so we can only hope their risk will bring the right rewards. With it looking increasingly like Marks & Spencer are shifting fully into supermarket status, footfall may well win. Question is, swiftly off the back of Ocado’s expiring deal with Waitrose, and Marks & Spencer reportedly paying the food delivery service £750million for a 50% share of the new Ocado.com joint-venture, are there smarter ways to engage with and convert a new customer demographic?