Friday, January 25, 2008

Marketing myopia at Marks and Spencer India (Kolkata)

Sometimes brand value leads to the downfall of a successful regimen of a company. The way marketing myopia hits even the most successful retailer is highly ridiculous. These retail giants talk of all short of theories and concepts but when it comes to application in foreign lands, all strategic functions fails miserably.
The recent store which claims to be the biggest Marks and Spencer store in India, (located in Kolkata-near Exide, Avani Heights) fails miserably on account of store layout and planning. I have never come across such a disaster in planning and implementation of store layout ever in my life.
The store covers clothings, accessories and beauty products with a slice of hygiene products for both men and women. The merchandise ranges between Rs.899 to Rs. 12999(for complete suits). As far as the traditional and well established rule goes, we all know that higher the product value of the product, higher is the time spent on taking a purchase decision. Well Marks and Spencer seems to break all the management theories by driving away customers from spending their time in a section and expects to do good by paying lefty sum on the ambiance and store management.
The mens department are the most inefficiently handled with the layout followed to present the merchandise looking like as if presented by street hawkers who lack space to display their items !
If you ever visit the store you will find the average space between two gondolas to be approximately 12 inches..Now i wonder how does a person feels when he is looking for a L, XL, or a XXL size of clothing for himself, trapped between the gondolas. As far as my research and finding goes, it is seen that whenever an object touches the backside of a person(specially the hip) , he/she immediately leaves from that particular point and looks for something else no matter how attractive the merchandise may be. There were several other such faults with the layout and presentation of the items which i found to be not at par with the other brand outlets on the same complex (Next, Body Shop and Guess also operate from the same mall)
Now guess how will it feel when you are with your friends, associates, family on a shopping and your clothes getting caught between the gondolas?
On a casual talk with the store manager about this space problem while shopping, it was addressed to me that "Marks and Spencer" sells with its name and all other things are irrespective and meaningless... Now thats what we call -Myopia..
Is a brand name more powerful than the consumers?
Can a brand name be so powerful that it can change the age old shopping behaviors of people?
Well with so many questions in my mind i came back...waiting for time and the information of the revenue generated by them in future to justify their act and strategies..

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Retail Customer Satisfaction Model (RCSM)
· Easy accessibility of the store
· Need satisfying product/services
· Sought product at reasonable price (discounts will add to satisfaction)
· Assistance in purchase decision
· Shopping ambience (free walking area, lighting etc.)
· After sales assistance

Considering the consumer to be the target upon which all activities are targeted, here I have developed a model in which the components of consumer satisfaction are taken into consideration.
Creating a brand image and enjoying the benefits of being the leader does not come so easy. An organization can succeed in its mission only by taking care of its targeted consumers and maximizing their satisfaction levels. The idea behind the model shown above have its roots derived from the very need of satisfying the needs of a consumer and hence are all consumers oriented. The components of the model are discussed at length below.

a. Accessibility: The very basis of deriving the best return from investment s to provide the product and services at the nearest and most convenient location. A product desire may be there but the availability of the same at a convenient location reflects its relative demand. Sometimes it might be seen that a product may have succeeded in creating demand for itself but ultimately could not make itself sold in the market due to its unavailability at a convenient location where its targeted customers are located. Hence the trade area should be wisely chosen to ensure that it creates a demand as well as is conveniently located and kills competition too. The best way to achieve this is maximize the number of outlets in a given area. Big Bazaar is a classic example of such application of the accessibility component.

b. Need satisfying product: Consumer go to stores where there needs are satisfied. As such when going for assortment, a company must look for the products that are easily not available in the trade area and have a good potential for sales. Adding such products establishes a different image for the brand and helps pull more and more customers for its store.

c. Value: another important aspect in satisfaction model is the value component. When consumers get the same quality of product/service, at a cheaper price, they shift to the store providing it. Hence an organization must look at cost cutting activities so that it can offer the customers the product/services at a competitive price.

d. Assistance: Consumers look for assistance when ever they are in tight spot. In such situation ensuring the best of advice and assistance from the shop floor employees will help in reducing the attrition rate of customers and add to enhanced shopping experience.

e. Ambience: Ambience is another important factor that needs to be taken good care of if you want to satisfy your customers. The purchase decisions are influenced to a great extent by the ambience a store maintains. Moreover it’s the ambience what makes people come to the store again and again. Purchase may not occur every time but some do come for window shopping. It is at this point a good visual merchandising will force the customers to change their mind and decide on the purchase. A good ambience ensures reduction in attrition of customers and helps promote the brand image by mouth communication by those who have already visited the store.
f. After sales service: The last and most important aspect that needs to be taken good care of is the after sales services offered by the store. Proper follow up activities always help to promote the image of the company and thus ensure loyalty on part of the consumers. Exchanges, informing about promotional activities in advance, reminders are some of the great ways to delight consumers with minimum investment.