Marks & Spencer plans new format stores after tennis tie-up

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mnsTennis has always had a serious affair with fashion and style both on and off court. Marks & Spencer, the ‘Official Fashion Show Partner’ of India’s only ATP World Tour championship, the Aircel Chennai Open 2013 (played in the last week of December 2012 and first week of 2013), plans to open new format stores to attract its primary target group is SEC A /A+, affluent men and women from 25 to 35 years of age.

“The overall strategy is to grow the customer base by increasing our brand awareness in India by opening more stores to expand our footprint. We will open new look format stores in India,” says Sumit Kumar, Head of Marketing, Marks & Spencer Reliance India, adding, “These new format stores, and the makeover has made the stores more inviting, inspiring and easier to shop with new clothing display with each clothing brand clearly segmented, with distinct brand identities that allow customers to see which brand best meets their personal style preferences. This allows customers to pass easily through unique branding, visual merchandising kit and propping,” says Kumar.

To leverage tennis to the hilt, Marks & Spencer had roped in tennis player, Vijay Amritraj, along with Somdev Devvarman, Marin Cilic, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Yuki Bhambri, who would showcase the brand’s new merchandise, a part of ‘Autograph’, ‘Collezione’, ‘Per Una’ and ‘Indigo’ collections.

Aircel Chennai Open 2013 featured a line-up of 20 players such as Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka among others. The brand feels that the tourney is a great platform to showcase its “trendy and aspirational” collection on the ramp.

The layout of the new stores, Kumar says has an edgy, fashion focused feel with an illuminated catwalk, an ethnically casual look for Indigo Collection, whilst a sports inspired look for Blue Harbour and luxurious look for Autograph.

Without revealing the spends of M&S for the tennis partnership and the expected ROI, Kumar says the marketing mix included  in-store promotions, consumer engagement through contests . The engagement was extended to online space as well with contest on M&S Facebook page and Twitter. Apart from this, the brand claims to also have highlighted the merchandise post event in its Express Avenue store in Chennai, a city, where the tournament took place.

Sumit Kumar, Head of Marketing, Marks & Spencer Reliance India

Sumit Kumar, Head, Marketing, Marks & Spencer Reliance India

According to Kumar, the brand uses  a variety of marketing channels to communicate to its customers including, conventional mediums like print, out of home, fashion and lifestyle magazines, online and digital. “While we use conventional media; we have been exploring new age media as well to reach out to our consumers in an engaging manner. We now have about 60,000 plus Facebook fans,” he adds.

He further says that in September 2010, M&S introduced “M&S Gift Cards” and the feedback from the customers has been very encouraging.  “We have been able to successfully use the insights from our loyalty programme “Your M&S Club” to make customised offers for customer segments. Our store windows provide an engaging experience for our customers as they shop at our stores. We also engage with the fashion media and stylist on regular basis which has also been able to help us communicate with fashion media proactively. India specific seasonal Look Book has been very well accepted by the fashion fraternity,” Kumar opines.

The brand claims that its marketing objective is to position M&S as a stylish, aspirational yet accessible lifestyle retailer which is executed by a combination of both ATL and BTL activities. “We aim to ensure a consistent communication with customers for a cohesive customer journey right from external marketing to our store windows and in-store communication,” adds Kumar.

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