What can sentiment analysis tell us about customers’ perception of Marks and Spencer

Sentiment analysis of social media conversations provides businesses with useful and rich insight into how customers feel about their brand. Sentiment analysis and the context of what is driving the social media conversations about a business is not just an exercise in resolving common customer complaints. The insight from sentiment analysis need not only be used to inform marketing strategies, it can provide businesses with insight into what products they should be focusing on, whether they are working with the right brand ambassadors, and what social responsibility initiatives they need to consider within their operating structure whether those initiatives are public facing or not.

High Street favourite Marks and Spencer has seen 86,000 conversations created about it across social media from January 1st to June 20th 2021. We have measured whether these conversations are positive or negative, determined what is driving that sentiment, and examined ways in which Marks and Spencer or any business can use this insight to inform their own business strategy.

What is Marks and Spencer saying?

In the past six months, Marks and Spencer has posted on social media 1,400 times. The business' best performing post since January 1st occurred on January 18th. The post announced M&S would be bolstering the Government school meals vouchers from £15 to £20 if parents elected to receive M&S vouchers. The post also went on to provide a meal planner for parents. The post received 112,000 engagements.

The success of the post is due to M&S' honest and authentic commitment to a topical and urgent issue that had faced many parents confronted once again by lockdown and the threat of changing provisions of free or subsidised school meals. The engagement from customers and the public on this post is above and beyond any other piece of content shared by M&S reflects the growing expectation that brands and businesses must place corporate social responsibility initiatives and wellbeing at the heart of their business, and walk their talk.


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A post shared by M&S (@marksandspencer)

What does the sentiment analysis reveal about Marks and Spencer?

Since January there have been over 86,000 pieces of social media content about Marks and Spencer. 55% of that content is positive. With 25% of it neutral in tone, and only 20% of it negative.

M&S saw a high amount of negativity around Valentine's Day. This is in line with many other brands and supermarkets who offer flower delivery or 'dine in for two' offers. Stock availability or delivery windows not being met prompts increased customer contact.

In addition, as customers, influencers or marketing campaigns lead with messages such as 'staying in alone' or 'stuck at home for Valentines', the positioning of well intended conversations, can be skewed as negative owing to the language in the post. It is important for businesses to ensure that over peak gifting periods, customer care teams are upstaffed to be able to meet increased demand for contact. Proactive messaging about increased wait times, or delivery availability also helps to reduce negative sentiment, as customers expectations can be honestly managed up front.

Through mid April, M&S sees another spike in negativity. A large amount of this was owed to Aldi publicly confronting them over its Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake. This matter was resolved with humour and good sport between both brands across social media, which actually also increased the amount of positive sentiment about the business over the same time frame. M&S did suffer from being seen as a bit of a corporate bully for a few days in the court of public opinion, but they also benefited from it, and their response and the action they subsequently took was well received.

sentiment analysis report for Marks and Spencer

The Maybe* How They Feel report showing the sentiment of the conversation about Marks and Spencer January 1st - June 20th 2021

Key takeaways

Customer expectations had been shifting long before the pandemic in terms of accessibility to service and the communication channels they expected to be served through. Consumers increasingly expect brands to behave in a way that benefits the wellbeing of the people they serve and employ, and also of the wider global population. This has accelerated globally in the past 18 months.

Now more than ever brands are expected to be human and personal, and communicate in that way. They are also expected to be rapid to respond and understand the needs of their consumers and their consumers' state of mind. Over the past year, as frustration levels among customers have elevated, brands need to be extra empathetic and truly customer centric, which means listening first to conversations, and then adapting accordingly.

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