4.5 Is M&S market led?
Allow half an hour.
Read Case study 1 and then use the evidence there to answer the following questions.
Do you think that M&S is market led?
Which value discipline do you think M&S should focus on?
What kind of marketing do you think M&S supports?
This is an interesting case because M&S has an opportunity to incorporate up-to-date marketing ideas into the organisation.
1 Is M&S market led?
Market orientation is made up of three areas. I now discuss each in turn with reference to the M&S case study.
The company seems to be trying to understand its customers. The function of the new marketing department is to provide ‘more focused and proactive communication, greater clarity in presentation and display, and clear customer targeting’.
Although the company has been left behind by its competitors, it now acknowledges that competition exists. The new marketing department is expected to provide on-going ‘analysis of the competitive environment’. In addition, the introduction of e-commerce will provide a competitive edge – for a short while.
From the description of the activities planned for the new marketing department, it seems that the company is falling into the common trap of using ‘marketing department marketing’.
To be truly market led the old functional barriers must be blurred. Everyone in the organisation should become a ‘part-time marketer’ so that the company can offer superior customer value all the time. And ‘customer value’ doesn't only mean competitive prices, it also includes areas like service, quality and reliability.
2 Which value discipline?
T&W would recommend that M&S focuses on its operations, products or customers, i.e. on one value discipline. I discuss each of these below.
To focus on its operations would mean concentrating on offering a mass-market, no-frills approach. M&S offer products to a very large market. However, the no-frills approach would contradict the up-market M&S brand and culture.
To gain product leadership would involve competing on the basis of product performance – the current M&S emphasis on quality would be consistent with this focus. Traditionally the company has always looked for new ideas; for example, by attending fashion shows to enable it to predict trends in styles, fabrics and colours. It uses ‘secret shoppers’ to check its performance against its competitors and it uses consumer panels to check the strengths and weaknesses of its product range. M&S's problem is a common one: unique value propositions do not stay unique forever.
To focus on customers involves consistently going the extra mile for selectively chosen customers. This involves an organisation in satisfying the unique needs of its customers so that they obtain the optimum value, quality and service from whatever products they buy.
3 Marketing approach
To become a market leader again M&S needs to analyse its customers and to focus on the company's reputation for innovation and quality. Product leadership means beating its competitors to market with new styles and fabrics. Innovation comes from finding new ways to do business. For the moment, the move to e-commerce will redefine its unique value proposition.