H&M vs Marks and Spencer (M&S)
A Comparison on their In-store Shopping Experience
This case study is contributed by the Master Degree Students of e-Commerce and Internet Computing, Master of Science of The University of Hong Kong. The report is one of the course requirements for the module of CRM: Business Strategies and Techniques, being taught by Mr. Sampson Lee, President of G-CEM. The case study is published with permission of the authors.
Target customers and their critical needs
H&M is one of the largest European fashion retailers. Originated from Sweden, they are a pioneer of "fast fashion". Their clothing represents fashion, quality, and affordable price. Their target customer is the group of fashionable and trendy consumers who enjoy shopping, like high fashion and quality clothing at a low price.
The critical needs of their target customer are: follow the fashion trends tight and able to wear top designer labels at an affordable low price. Besides, they can find a wide variety of accessories and merchandise to mix and match with their cloths.
Marks & Spencer (M&S)
Marks & Spencer is a British retailer, which sells both clothing and food in their stores. In this article, we will focus on comparing their clothing section with H&M. Their target customer is middle-aged, middle class, with a focus on practical needs.
The critical needs of their target customer are: high quality and trendy clothing with acceptable price, good return policy, easy to maintain, wide range of sizes to fit different body measurement, ready to wear, and good for professional and executive wear.
H&M Brand Value:
Fashion and quality at the best price
Fashion - Wears are designed by top/famous designer, catwalk
Quality - Maintain the good quality even in competitive price
Best Price - Reasonable price that people in the town can afford
Marks & Spencer Brand Value:
Quality, value, service, innovation and trust
Quality - Products are produced in good quality
Value - Focus on the value of the goods, e.g. full range of size and colors
Service - Comfortable store, good sales service
Innovation - Every store has a pleasant wines / chocolate / biscuit corner
Trust - Trust on service, quality, and refund policy
The below diagram and table illustrates the use of an Emotion Curve to measure the customer experience rating in a natural time sequence (from entry to exit to the stores).
Effective Experience Delivery
Both Marks & Spencer (M&S) and H&M have stores all over the world and well received in Hong Kong. M&S has 10 stores in Hong Kong and H&M has 4 stores in Hong Kong. Take a look of the store locations of the two companies: M&S (Central, Causeway Bay, Diamond Hill, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon Tong, Quarry Bay, Shatin, TST, Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi), and H&M (Central, Mong Kok, Kowloon Station, Kowloon Tong), both of them target to the high spending power customer group. However, according to the consumers' shopping behavior, you can divide them into two groups, who are practical consumers and fashionable and trendy consumers.
Interpreting M&S Emotion Curve
In this case, the target customers of Marks & Spencer (M&S) belong to the group of practical consumers who place more functional considerations on their cloths. They perceive clothes as necessity to cover the need of being dressed. Therefore, their critical needs are good quality cloths which suit their functional purposes and also personal tastes.
M&S claim that their brand values are quality, value, service, innovation and trust. Customers are interested in purchasing products with high quality and good value of their brand. As a matter of fact, M&S has expanded and strengthened one of their brands - Autograph strongly in 2007/08. The brand focuses on offering elegant and luxury range of clothing. Besides, M&S consider the quality and the value of products are their important brand value. These two issues which represented as product customization and product quality located at the pleasure peak of the emotional curve are also important to their target customers. As a result, we can see that M&S is delivering an effective experience in terms of product quality and value to their target customers, though the price may be a bit too high as compared to other competitors. However, M&S fails to perform well in terms of innovation as the image of brand (clothing style) is generally perceived as conservative. For the brand value of trust, The Post Sales Service part can deeply reflect this. M&S provide global goods return service, which injects good confidence to customers about the product quality and the stores' responsibility. Trust also includes the earth protection and green life concepts advocated by the store. However, it is not easy to be experienced by shopper. Only if customers study about the product materials and manufacturing process, they will come to realize the beliefs they have.
Interpreting H&M Emotion Curve
The target customers of H&M belong to the group of fashionable and trendy consumers who see shopping as a social activity providing pleasure in their daily life. They acquire the most fashionable clothes each season and want to follow the trends without investing a lot of money. In order to fulfill the needs of the customers, H&M launched EDLP (Every Day Low Prices) products. In addition, they invited the top fashion designers in the industry such as Karl Legerfeld to be their partners for designing the new collection. As shown in the emotional curve, there are two pleasure peaks happening in the process which are psychological identification and product price. As a result, we believe H&M is successful in making the combination of the best design under the name of an inexpensive clothing label. In fact, to maintain the low price policy, H&M has to give up the customer service. Fitting and cashier usually have long queues. Sales staff is relatively less as compared to the number of customers. It is not easy to get help when you have encountered problems or issues.
In sum, the above two companies are also doing relatively good job in delivering effective experience to their targeted customers. However, fashion retailing is a very competitive industry and all players need to be very alert and sensitive to the changing needs of their target customers, not mentioning other external factors like economic.
About the author
Mr Leung Wing Lun
Mr Ngai Chak Ming
Mr Wu Ka Ki
Mr Chan Sek Pan
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