M&S Technology Marketing Digital Customer Market Behaviour Marketing

Marketing in the digital age – using technology to win more customers


Technology. Marketing. Marks and Spencer. These 3 things might sound like odd companions, but M&S is breaking new ground for high street fashion with its one-to-one marketing. Billed as an ‘online personal stylist’, its ‘Tuesday’ service asks questions about customers’ age, body shape, personal style and problem areas before recommending key items each season via email. This incredibly personalised marketing does a great job of embracing new technology to offer something of value to customers.

This does, however, raise key questions for M&S about its marketing.

What does the market look like? M&S has clearly done its homework on the macro and micro trends that are affecting high street fashion retailers. Personalised marketing has evolved from simple name insertion to item recommendations based on viewing and purchasing history and automated email journeys based on customer action. Meanwhile physical high street stores are threatened by the social trend towards online shopping – people prefer to browse on their smartphone rather than in-store. Most online shopping is done on a Tuesday – hence Marks and Spencer’s choice of the name ‘Tuesday’.

Who is its target customer? Last year CEO Steve Rowe wanted to revive its relationship with its core customers, married women in their 50s. However, the new service is focused on a chat-based interface, which will resonate much more with tech-savvy millennials. With its celebrity collaborations, M&S has faced the same challenge: using 62 year old Twiggy in 2012 campaigns but 32 year old Alexa Chung in the 2016-17 season. So which group of customers should M&S choose? Factors like size, likelihood of shopping with them and purchasing power should all be considered.


Source: M&S Company Archive

You have to find a way to be different if you want to succeed. M&S has clearly recognised the need to invest in new technology and innovation to increase its sales and market share. However, this will only help it sell more than other high street retailers if customers value the service and choose to shop more with the company as a result. We don’t yet know if customers will value ‘Tuesday’ and see it as a unique benefit of M&S.

It remains to be seen if M&S’s new application of technology in marketing will yield results. However, the innovation should be applauded. Getting your marketing right – from knowing your market, to understanding your customer, to picking a way to be different – is the right way forward for any business.

About the author:

Kay Sharpington is a Market Analyst and has particular experience of sizing and forecasting markets to provide strategic recommendations for tech companies. As part of her work at Milner she helps companies grow their value through market analysis and insights, strategy formulation and PR and marketing programmes.

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