How do you sell somebody something when you don’t even have their attention? It’s a question that will have been keeping Archie Norman awake for years, in the quest to make M&S more relevant to young people and break the link in consumer minds to a place where mum used to shop – an association Norman recently said made his “heart sink”.
“It’s a big job” is a phrase that seems often repeated in Inside M&S, the second series of which began last week on ITV. The job of reaching a gen Z audience – who “don’t shop at M&S” – is one of those we see the retailer taking on, by teaching boxer and influencer Tommy Fury to cook as a route to his five million-plus Instagram followers.
But M&S’s own followers have questions, with one commenting the recipe would have been useful.
The challenges of M&S’s strategy play out elsewhere, as it makes the £50m move from a 32-year-old store in Lakeside to a shiny new one nearby.
Not only is the old store hindering M&S’s ambition to get more people trolley shopping, by having no car park, it’s also “falling apart”, says store manager Dior, with a leaky roof, buckets on the floor and toilets out of order.
“So brand damaging!” she says. The blocked toilet, maybe. The same would not be said of the programme, which speaks to two audiences at once: those who will be familiar with M&S’s strategy and those who simply find the show’s premise entertaining. Perhaps not entirely dissimilar to speaking to both Tommy Fury’s audience and M&S’s own.