Marks & Spencer’s move into the world of TV light entertainment looks, at first sight, a questionable strategy.
So Marks & Spencer has become the fashion partner of The X Factor? But hang on a moment, isn’t that the TV show where shed-loads of talentless individuals compete for the chance to have a crack at a recording contract and occasionally, just occasionally, one slips through the net who really is quite good (although traditionally, not the one that actually wins)? And isn’t that the show where the audience seems to be composed of over-excited mums, dads, brothers and sisters all intent on cheering down the opposition in order that their nearest and dearest has the best chance of carrying off the coveted gong?
It is. And according to M&S, teaming up with the nation’s “favourite entertainment show” is logical as M&S is the “nation’s favourite retailer”. Well maybe. But it is unfortunately just a maybe. M&S is certainly not River Island, Topshop, H&M or even Forever 21, all of which might be said, by some, to carry ranges that have more to do with The X Factor and those who appear on it, than does the favourite of The Shires.
A quick scoot around any M&S, new or old, is enough to tell you that while it may be democratic in its approach to clothing and store design, it is not, hand on heart, fashion, although it may well be ‘fashionable’. The curiosity is that when push came to shove there were no other retailers whose principle demographic is, erm, more youthful than that encountered at M&S, who would put their heads above the above the line parapet.
This is not to say, of course, that there is anything wrong with what M&S does – its stability and ability to deliver time and again proves this. It is however about questioning what might appear to be something of a marketing misfit. And what does being a ‘fashion partner’ actually mean? Are we about to see The X Factor pundits in the Italian Collection while the contestants belt out their numbers in Per Una or Blue Harbour?
Probably not, but it does make you think about what has been done. M&S is very good at segmenting its offer in-store and this really is a family retailer, but aren’t its stores and stock more Strictly Come Dancing and Brucie than X Factor? Perhaps this is about maximum exposure for maximum spend, but you can’t help wondering whether this is the most savvy move when you wander around your local Marks & Sparks.