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As M&S reports decline in full year sales and profits, CEO Steve Rowe states the pace of change will accelerate, and that the business is on track with its transformation. Developments in the year ahead will include more store portfolio redevelopment and rationalisation, the relaunch of the Sparks loyalty programme, and the pilot of a new food store format.

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Price investment and new twists on its popular meal deal mechanic are evident on the shelves as the retailer seeks to win bigger baskets and appeal to family shoppers.

Investing in price

M&S's competitively priced basket of Easter goods was widely reported in the press. According to Good Housekeeping magazine, purchasing items for Easter lunch for eight people was £3.65 cheaper than the previous year at M&S. This relfects price cuts across the store, as the retailer seeks to reposition its value credentials.

In store, bold "New lower price" signage highlights where price reductions have been made on products across categories. Multi-buy mechanics are still prevalent, but the range of products included and savings are clearly and simply communicated.

Communication around "Fresh Four" fresh produce is another tactic to highlight value on everyday products, and brings M&S closer in line with successful promotions such as Aldi's Super 6. 

Recent price-led activity is complemented by M&S's revival of the "this is not just food..." campaign, emphasising its quality credentials.

"Dine in" deal 2.0

M&S also continues to evolve its popular evening meal deal mechanic. The famous "Dine in for two for £10" has taken a number of twists. These include themes such as At The Movies, with fun dishes such as "Honey I shrunk the ribs" and stretching to a £12 price point. We have also seen deals for different missions like roast dinners and Big Night In (two pizzas, three side dishes), offering more flexibility for families. 

Sponsorship of ITV show Britain's Got Talent, which attracts a peak audience of more than 11m people, provides a new platform to highlight weekly offers on family-friendly options. Sharry Cramond, M&S Food Marketing Director commented on the campaign "we'll be bringing M&S Food into millions of homes each week...encouraging them to choose M&S for their Saturday night family dinner".

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M&S has reintroduced ‘this is not just food…’ marketing campaign as it looks to transform its food business.

This is not just food…

After twelve years, M&S has brought back its ‘this is not just…’ campaign for its food business.

The relaunch has been marked with a new 60 second advert, created by Grey London, and showcases a selection of products including cauliflower cheese, salmon and trifle.

Source: M&S

The marketing campaign initially launched in 2004 and played an important role in boosting perceptions of M&S's premium market positioning.

Food transformation programme

The relaunch forms the latest in a series of efforts to transform the food business following a period of decline in 2018.

M&S has worked hard to regenerate growth for its food business through new a celebrity-led social media campaign and the launch of vegan range, Plant Kitchen, earlier this year.

The reintroduction also follows several senior level appointments to the M&S team. In 2018, the business shook up its marketing team, which included the appointment of Sharry Cramond, marketing director for food and hospitality. The role of food managing director was also created, designed to accelerate its food transformation programme.

The news follows the recent announcement that M&S is set to enter a new joint venture with Ocado, providing shoppers nationwide with online access to the M&S food range for the first time.


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With this year's official Fairtrade Fortnight running from 25th February-10th March, we take a look at how retailers are supporting the event, and driving an ethical agenda in the face of a highly value orientated market.

This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight focuses on campaigning for a living income to become a reality for cocoa farmers in West Africa, with a particular focus on women. The foundation is running a “She Deserves a Living Income campaign”, to encourage shoppers to buy Fairtrade products.

Co-op: ethical commitment

The Co-op has a strong focus on ethical trading and is the UK’s largest convenience retailer of Fairtrade products, so it is no surprise that it is running a number of initiatives and leading on support for Fairtrade Fortnight this year. The retailer has been committed to supporting Fairtrade since its launch in the UK in 1994 and today, all of its own brand chocolate is sourced from Fairtrade cocoa.

This year, Co-op has launched a Fairtrade Pledge, in which it is encouraging customers to swap one product in their basket for a Fairtrade alternative. Co-op is also urging customers to celebrate the impact Fairtrade has made around the world and has launched a celebration pack. With this, customers can access stories, recipes using Fairtrade products, and hints and tips on how to promote Fairtrade within communities. The retailer has also been promoting the campaign on its social media platforms, particularly using videos to show the impact of buying Fairtrade.

M&S: traceability tool

Following the launch of its traceability map in 2016, M&S has extended the coverage of the map to its tea and coffee supply chains in support of Fairtrade Fortnight this year. Part of M&S’s long-term goal to be a leader for sustainable production, all coffee and tea sold at M&S is Fairtrade. Last year, the retailer contributed over £1.3m in Fairtrade Premiums for the tea and coffee producers to invest in their communities.

The interactive traceability tool shows where the retailer’s tea and coffee producers are located, as well as key details on these producers. The map also shows the number of workers or cooperative members and, where possible, the percentage of females who are cooperative members. This reflects M&S’s plan to champion female workers and growers in its supply chain.

Hidden hot chocolate salon pop-up

To mark the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation opened a secret hot chocolate salon in London. The innovative pop-up was hidden at the back of a newsagents in Dalston, and customers were transported into a West African themed café at the push of a button. The café, named Rosine’s Hot Chocolate Salon after a cocoa farmer from Co^te d’Ivoire, offered a choice of three hot chocolates. The hot chocolates were priced at £1.86, representing a day’s living income for a cocoa farmer.

Waitrose and Co-op were among the commercial partners that donated products for the hot chocolate salon, along with a number of suppliers including Divine Fairtrade chocolate and Freedom Mallows.

Appeal of Fairtrade products

IGD’s ShopperVista research shows that 15% of shoppers said that whether a product supports workers in developing nations was very important and 42% said this was fairly important. This indicates shoppers are willing to pay to support values such as Fairtrade. Our Shoppers of the Future research also indicates that shoppers will be finding more ways to express their social consciousness through their shopping in the future. With ethical considerations expected to become more relevant to shoppers in the future, retailers’ support of such events and visibility of relevant ranges seems set to be an increasingly important driver of store choice in the future.


IGD Co-op Trade Briefing 2019

19 September, Manchester

Succeeding together. The supplier engagement day will help delegates learn practical ways to action Co-op’s strategy and will also give you the chance to help strengthen relationships and businesses together.

Find out more »


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