An experiment started in lockdown so M&S branches could inform local customers of opening times & stock levels of pasta & toilet rolls, has turned into something permanent for the High St brand. In fact, this local touchpoint has proved such a success with local audiences that now 600 stores have their own Facebook pages & 200 have TikTok accounts.
With a collective 3+ million views a week, their content updates local customers about new products, services & community activities, & enables them to get to know colleagues in their local stores, which helps to spark physical conversations when they see them in-store.
We Are Acuity thinks local empowerment is a smart move for M&S. Local partners embrace the initiative with a healthy sense of competition. Yate, Bexhill & Gloucester have over 500,000 views a month. Longbridge’s self-scan tech video had 1.3 million views & Romford’s Halloween Thriller dance had 300,000 views.
With 1.5 million likes Romford went on to launch a Christmas hit. Written by Team Support Manager Jack, it had 50,000 YouTube views. "Organically wholesome & fantastic & not only makes me want to go to M&S but to this particular one in Romford" said a fan.
M&S’s enlightened social media team have full trust in local partners too, sending out a weekly package they would like promoted but giving store teams freedom to presents things how they want. Who would have believed this in today’s corporate ‘one size fits all’ retail?
What led to this amazing local experiment? The pandemic brought challenges for every retailer, but according to Alex Williams, Head of Growth & Personalisation at M&S, it also put the wind in their sails to evolve. In spring 2020, they launched “Never the Same Again,” with a goal of accelerating a company-wide transformation.
Experimentation, testing, & learnings are now a strategic elements of the retailer’s personalisation roadmap, with teams encouraged to challenge old ways of working. Empowering stores to engage in their own local marketing is just one example. The aim is to be the most personal retailer, no matter where or how its customers shop. It isn’t about Bricks & Mortar versus online, this is about blending both in a way that gives the very best experience.
Sharry Cramond, Marketing Director M&S Food says local store activity builds word of mouth in local communities, which is incredibly important. “People believe people like themselves,” she said. Brands like M&S spend millions on national advertising but local content builds relationships with customers in a way glossy national comms can’t. In an age of big online retail, local marketing highlights the benefits of physical stores, where local customers feel part of the family.
If you'd like to talk about how a national-to-local approach could help your brand & empower your local partners, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
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