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Marks & Spencer PLC (M&S) is one of the leading British retailers (Marks and Spencer 2015). The ‘multinational was established in 1884 and is currently headquartered in Westminster, London’ (Barry 2009, p. 2). The firm markets ‘a wide range of products such as home appliances, clothing, and luxury food materials’ (Singh 2011, p. 1).
M&S uses powerful strategies in order to achieve its goals. The company has encountered numerous troubles in the recent past. However, it embraces the best business practices in order to deliver quality products to its esteemed customers (Marks and Spencer 2015). This essay therefore examines how M&S uses corporate social responsibility (CSR) as part of its marketing strategy.
Utilising CSR as Part of Marketing Strategy
Marks & Spencer’s marketing strategy has been playing a significant role towards promoting the best outcomes. In 2006, the firm established a new campaign that focused on the sustainability of its marketing strategy. M&S wanted to ensure that every shopper was aware of the origin and effective of its products (Vesanen 2007). The campaign “Look Behind the Label” was launched to inform more consumers about the nature of its products.
For instance, the campaign highlighted the firm’s CSR such as ‘salt reduction in its meals, sustainable sea foods, toxic-free clothes dyes, and animal-welfare’ (Barry 2009, p. 4). The company also informed more customers about its sustainable supply chains. Such chains were characterised by the best transportation practices. The purpose of the strategy was to ensure every marketing process was sustainable (Jiang 2004).
In 2007, the firm came up with its famous “Plan A” campaign in order to achieve the best goals. The plan identified several environmental objectives. Such objectives would be achieved within the next five years (Marks & Spencer 2015).
The ‘major objectives included becoming carbon neutral, extending sustainable sourcing, improving the lives of more individuals, encouraging employees and consumers to have healthier lifestyles, and sending no waste to landfills’ (Singh 2011, p. 1). This plan encouraged more customers to purchase the firm’s products. The approach supported the company’s marketing strategy thus making it more profitable (Kotler & Keller 2012).
In 2010, the retailer came up with new strategies in order to improve the sustainability of its “Plan A” campaign. New approaches were used to ensure more people were willing to save the natural environment. The firm ‘partnered with Oxfam in order to encourage more people to recycle their clothes’ (Singh 2011, p. 2). Many people returned their clothes thus supporting the company’s goals (Marks & Spencer 2015).
M&S has therefore been using the CSR concept to support its marketing strategy. The 7Ps framework is monitored in order to ensure every product delivers the targeted sustainability goals (Zafar, Habib & Bilal 2014). The firm focuses on the increasing number of environmentally-sensitive customers in every country.
M&S redesigns its products and marketing processes in order to achieve the best outcomes. The firm’s promotional strategy is also supported using the best CSR practices. For example, M&S uses powerful adverts and stories to capture the emotions of many potential buyers (Marks & Spencer 2015). The concept of place focuses on specific locations whereby more shoppers are aware of the best sustainability practices.
M&S also focuses on the needs of different people. The company delivers accurate information to the shoppers. As well, the cultural image of the targeted consumers is taken seriously (Hill & Jones 2012). The marketing process is characterised by appropriate research and development (R&D) practices that can deliver sustainable products. Product packaging is done in a professional manner.
The materials used can be easily recycled thus minimising the company’s impacts on the natural environment. Supply chain is also done in a sustainable manner. As well, M&S obtains its products and merchandise from sustainable suppliers (Singh 2011).
Analysis Using the 7Ps Marketing Strategy
The above analysis shows clearly that M&S focuses on the 7Ps model in order to produce a CSR-oriented marketing strategy. The table below therefore shows how Marks & Spencer considers these 7Ps in order to have a sustainable marketing strategy.
|Place||M&S ensures that its locations and stores are sustainable. Energy conservation is also embraced in order to support its CSR goals.|
|Product||The firm has been collaborating with sustainable suppliers in order to acquire and market environmentally-friendly products. Such products are also manufactured using sustainable methods. Product packaging is done using recyclable materials. This strategy has increased the confidence of many potential buyers.|
|Promotion||The company’s “Plan A” informs more customers about its CSR practices. The promotional strategy also encourages more people to conserve the natural environment. Supply chain is also completed using the best practices that can safeguard the environment.|
|Price||The company’s products are cheaper. This approach makes it easier for more buyers to support the firm’s sustainability goals.|
|People||The firm’s “salespeople and marketers are informed about the best CSR practices” (Singh 2011, p. 2). This bracket focuses on the needs of different employeesand consumers. Every employee is equipped with adequate CSR skills in order to support the company’s goals. The marketing process also seeks to support the sustainability practices embraced by every customer. These practices make it easier for M&S to promote the most sustainable strategies whenever supporting different customers.|
|Process||The organisation’s delivery process has been sustainable. Customers are also encouraged to recycle their clothes in order to conserve the environment (Marks & Spencer2015).|
|Physical Evidence||The company uses sustainable facilities whenever marketing its products. Employees and workers are encouraged to wear attires produced using sustainable methods. The firm also offers different reports to inform more people about its CSR campaigns. M&S also uses guarantees, business statements, and reports to convey its CSR-agenda to more stakeholders (Marks & Spencer2015).|
M&S operates in a very competitive industry. The retailing industry is characterised by giant multinationals such as Wal-Mart and Costco Corporation. This fact explains why M&S focuses on the best strategies in order to achieve its business goals. The company’s integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a major role towards supporting its objectives.
Grayson (2014) indicates that ‘the CSR approach has improved the firm’s competitiveness in the industry’ (p. 1023). For instance, the ‘firm managed to make profits of over one billion pounds in 2008’ (Marks & Spencer 2015, para. 3). The strategy has also made it easier for the company to reduce its energy use. Every campaign has promoted new strategies thus making the firm more profitable.
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The use of a CSR-oriented marketing strategy has made it easier for M&S to attract more customers (Marks & Spencer 2015). Many consumers are currently monitoring the performances of different companies. Such consumers have become ethical thus forcing different companies to focus on the best practices (Nedelea & Paun 2009).
The strategy has also made it easier for the organisation to deal with competition. It is also notable that the firm will remain profitable in the future. That being the case, Marks & Spencer PLC should continue to analyse the changing needs of different ethical shoppers. This knowledge will ensure the firm implements new campaigns that can respond to such needs. The strategy will eventually support the company’s competitive position.
List of References
Barry, M 2009, ‘Marks & Spencer’s Consumer Education and Empowerment Strategy’, Sustainable Brands, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-5.
Grayson, D 2014, ‘Embedding Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability: Marks and Spencer’, Journal of Management Development, vol. 30, no. 10, pp. 1017-1026.
Hill, C & Jones, G 2012, Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach, Cengage Learning, Boston.
Jiang, P 2004, ‘The Role of Brand Name in Customization Decisions: a Search vs. Experience Perspective’, Journal of Product and Brand Management, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 73-83.
Kotler, P & Keller, K 2012, Marketing Management, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
Marks & Spencer 2015, <https://www.marksandspencer.com/>.
Nedelea, S & Paun, L 2009, ‘The Importance of the Strategic Management Process in the Knowledge-Based Economy’, Review of International Comparative Management, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 95-105.
Singh, A 2011, ‘Marks & Spencer’s Plan A: Five Years Later’, CSRwire, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-2.
Vesanen, J 2007, ‘What is Personalization: A Conceptual Framework’, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 409-418.
Zafar, F, Habib, I & Bilal, H 2014, ‘How to achieve Financial Gains with Corporate Social Responsibility in Businesses’, European Journal of Business and Management, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 68-77.