What drives online sentiment around department stores?

Social listening tools allow businesses to monitor what is being said about them online, how customers feel about them, and who and what influences the conversation about them. 

Maybe* has listened to the online conversations about John Lewis, Harrods, Selfridges, Debenhams and Fortnum & Mason throughout January 2020 in order to build a picture of which department stores are viewed most favourably on the High Street.

How much is being said about the department stores?

Social media monitoring reveals the amount of conversation generated online about a brand. It's a good indicator of how people feel about a brand, its products or its position on an issue, it can also be used during times of crisis to gauge the extent and response to a specific issue. 

Here we examine what drives sentiment around department stores. John Lewis earns the most conversation about them, while Debenhams the least. All department stores score over 50% for positive sentiment, though all apart from Fortnum & Mason score about 75%.

On average, the department store with the least volume of conversation about it is Debenhams. When looking at the conversation about the brand, it often relates to fashion terms whereas for John Lewis, Selfridges and Harrods it is beauty terms that have the most impact. 

The Maybe* What’s being said report showing the words and phrases most often used when mentioning Debenhams across social media.

The Maybe* What’s being said report showing the words and phrases most often used when mentioning Selfridges across social media.

Pretty young things

In 2019 we found that the majority of conversations about these flagship department store brands was driven by beauty brands. Little has changed in early 2020. Big name brands like Mac, Rodial and Charlotte Tilbury are joined by cult favourites like Morphe Brushes and The Ordinary in the conversation surrounding these department stores.

While department stores are busy creating content about their home interiors offering, or their latest sale; it’s beauty brands which are driving the most conversation, the most influence, the most engagement and the most positive tones.

Continuing to ignore the huge online followings of the likes of Urban Decay, Fenty Beauty and Huda Beauty means department stores are losing out. The beauty community may be  a younger demographic with less disposable income for big ticket electronic items or high end personal treats and gifts, but they are more willing to spend often on what they deem to be their essentials.

The Maybe* How they feel Report for Selfridges from mid to end Jan 2020 representing over 77% of the conversation about it is positive.


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Experiencing a little luxury living

Selfridges, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason’s offers luxury through their in-store experience. Whether its events or pop-ups in their restaurants or cafes, the brands understand that not all of their high footfall will translate into high spend.

Meanwhile small but lust-have niche luxury items like candles, florals and products to pamper the pooch increase accessibility and reasons to share online. By offering branded items and a destination to socialise as well as shop, these stores are talked about online from anyone looking to live life and ‘gram on the luxe side.


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The key takeway

Beauty concessions drive conversation about their stockists and make up brands have die hard followings. When a must-have item drops, shoppers will claw their way to be the first to get their hands on it, while Instagrammers can’t wait to create and share looks. Department stores can capitalise on this interest in their own content marketing strategy by announcing new arrivals, encouraging customers to share the looks they are creating, and ensuring partner brands who often have larger followings, are tagging them as stockists.

When you know what people are discussing in real-time you can join the right conversations and learn how to spark the ones that will matter tomorrow. Social listening tools support your business to find its voice in crowded markets, dig out a much-loved content niche and build a meaningful presence on social media.

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