FEATURE18 January 2023

Out of the ordinary: How insight helped M&S define its customer

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.

Features Retail Trends UK

Research has helped to challenge perceptions of Marks and Spencer’s clothing, inform its ‘Anything but Ordinary’ campaign and define a new target audience for the retailer, as Jane Simms discovers. 


The greatest strength of Marks and Spencer (M&S), widely regarded as the bellwether of the British high street, has arguably been its greatest weakness too: everyone knows it, nearly all households shop in it, but it has historically tried to be all things to all people. For example, around 22 million people – nearly one third of the UK population – shop for clothing and homeware at M&S every year. Some of them, however, do so only once.

M&S is in the middle of a turnaround programme designed to make itself more relevant to more people – and, crucially, to persuade customers to shop with it more frequently and across its considerable range. This has involved addressing perceptions that while the food is fabulous, clothing – and to a lesser extent its homewares – is dull. The retail sector took a battering during the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, but M&S capitalised on the sharp drop in footfall by focusing ...