Observations from M & S

For various reasons. I’ve been in the clothing sections of two different branches of Marks and Spencer this week.  M & S is fascinating to strategists, because of its reliance over many years on a wealth of tacit knowledge of the British middle classes’ buying habits, and because of its almost seamless transition from the company that was so well known that it never advertised, to the business behind ads such as this Christmas special from 2008.  So, in the spirit of observation, a few thoughts:

It’s October, and I picked up my first Christmas carrier bag of 2010 in the Moorgate store on Tuesday

M & S have a neat deal with Oxfam, that if you take any used M & S clothing into an Oxfam shop, you get a £5 M & S voucher.  The voucher can’t be used for clothing, can’t be used online, and is only valid for a limited time so it’s an effective ruse to get people into both M & S and Oxfam shops.

One of M & S’s enduring policies is that they do take things back, and if possible of course put them back on sale.  That’s fine, but in one branch I was looking at children’s clothes and there were boys’ coats on sale which already had names written on their labels in permanent marker.  If I want M & S coats with visible evidence of being used before then I’d go to Oxfam (see previous paragraph).  In fairness to the store, the staff were very helpful and willing to order a new coat similar to one of the used ones that we saw.

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