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Marks & Spencer Strategy Changes Needed Urgently

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Essay title: Marks & Spencer Strategy Changes Needed Urgently

Marks & Spencer Strategy Changes Needed Urgently

Marks & Spencer reported a drop in clothing sales of 8.5% and food sales 1.7%.

The Positioning Game suggested some months ago that the group needs to make a marketing decision about its food versus clothing businesses. There has been little indication of action in this direction and I predict further declines in trading until it changes.

Some corporate brands can hold together a variety of subsidairy products. Virgin is the classic example. The reason that it is classic is that few others can get away with it and nor should they try. In fact even Virgin might have done better by branding its subsidairy brands individually. Fortunately however, the charisma (ego?) of its founder Richard Branson allows it to get away with a single brand.

For the rest of us, and M&S, it should be one idea, one brand. Food is one brand and clothing is another (or in M&S's case, consider selling clothing to Philip Green or someone who knows how to make money in this field).

M&S's endorsed approach (company and individual brand e.g. M&S clothing) has a number of negative effects:

1. Bad news in one business impacts the other. This is particularly important for M&S since the media delight in reporting problems in either business division in recent years. They have become an example of marketing strategy that has lost its way.

2. The two businesses require very different strategies to succeed. You don't sell food in the same way that you sell clothes.

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