M&S’s sales may be down by 2.2%, but their offering is on the up

Earlier this month Marks and Spencer announced a 2.2% dip in sales and have featured in reports of retailers suffering their ‘worst Christmas ever’.

We listened to 11,000 people in online conversations on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums, and review sites over the Christmas and January sales period to see what we could learn about real M&S customers and what they want from the retailer.

By listening to social media conversations businesses are able to:

Understand the messaging and in some cases products and services that would be the most effective.

Identify customer pain points that their products and services should solve.

Develop insight into who and where customers are, and what drives their purchasing behaviour.

What we found

68% of the M&S conversation is positive.

This is largely been attributed to their food offering, while their gifting offering also fared well.

Recent vegan additions to their food selection have delighted customers.

Vegan labelling on clothing has been positively received on social media, amping up M&S's sentiment score.

Negativity was primarily driven by:

Items seen in marketing campaigns, including those led by influencers, not being widely available.

Problems with online delivery.

And recent weeks concerns around the efforts made by the business (among other big High Street names) to reduce plastic waste.


The Maybe* ‘How they feel’ report demonstrating how conversations about M&S are both positive and negative.

See how your own customers feel.


Communicating eco-initiatives would be a well-received message.

The conversation and sentiment tell us that among the usual concerns about online orders common to any retailer and customer, there is a health and environmentally conscious customer who is either well served by M&S and happy to tell the world about it or that there are some who want a little more commitment to the cause from the retailer.


The Maybe*’What’s being said’ report shows the topics resonating with your own audience

Marks’ customers respond well to influencer marketing but are then underserved by the business.

The brand has enjoyed the endorsement of influencers both organically and with initiatives and partnerships throughout the AW18 season.

Some of the niggles voiced about stock availability demonstrates that this messaging and these partnerships are reaching an audience who want to shop. However, the intent to spend will not convert into profit if the customer cannot be served with the product they’ve seen and consequently now want.

M&S should build on this positive response by readily communicating when items promoted in a campaign are back in stock, or if possible increasing the buys of their hero items.

Proactivity not reactivity will reduce frustration.

With issues around stock availability and or delivery issues, there is a real sense of frustration about the impact this has on people’s time. In a world of very time poor people, simple solves like ensuring store opening times are correct on the website, and that products are not promoted if they are in fact not available would go some way to reducing friction.

The M&S customer care team do a great job on Twitter, but by taking steps to proactively reduce the cause of common complaints, the customer care team could do an even better job of sharing the positive feedback the brand gets, and serve more customers, and faster.

There is a loyal, happy customer for Marks and Spencer readily expressing their intent to shop.

By increasing the relevance and accuracy of its messaging to the eco-conscious and a customer influenced by fashion-forward Instagrammers, the brand could continue to maintain the positive reputation they have among shoppers, and convert the consideration they are building through their efforts into cash.

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