OPINION19 May 2011

Good luck... on your business overhaul

Earlier this month, Clinton Cards, a mainstay of the British high street, posted a 3% decline in year-to-date like-for-like sales. It has announced a number of new initiatives and store improvements in order to turn trading around. Can Clinton tempt customers back to its shops, or is this a case of traditional bricks and mortar businesses being usurped by online for good?

Earlier this month, Clinton Cards, a mainstay of the British high street, posted a 3% decline in year-to-date like-for-like sales. It has announced a number of new initiatives and store improvements in order to turn trading around, including a new smartphone app, a loyalty card which will appear this autumn and an in-store web-based kiosk which will allow customers to design their own cards. The company has also been working with a branding and store design specialist on four redesigned stores.

But will all that be enough? Can Clinton tempt customers back to its shops, or is this a case of traditional bricks and mortar businesses being usurped online for good by the likes of Funky Pigeon and Moon Pig?

Customer insight will be key to helping Clinton’s pursue the right path. Research will help them understand what people want from a card and what a card can do like no other medium – so that they can leverage the physical equity of sending something tangible and understand what the card needs to convey. They can explore specific card occasions and behaviours around them, understanding what separates heavier and lighter buyers of cards so as to encourage heavier buying.

Clinton’s will have explored buying behaviours (ad hoc vs stocking, planned vs impulse) so that offers can be tailored to maximise purchasing, as well as reviewing what other lines can be offered (for example, cards and wrapping paper) and what role they can play.

They will also be very aware of their position relative to the competition. Brands that do well tend to really stand for something in the consumer’s mind. If Clintons’ positioning statement is  ‘Cards for all occasions’, where does that place them in the context of  WH Smith, Marks & Spencer or Funky Pigeon? Where is their point of differentiation?

Consumers want, as much as ever, to connect with each other and to express how they feel, to share, to gift – all the things that Clinton’s is about. But they have an infinite virtual world of possibilities with which to do this; so success for bricks and mortar businesses is all about embracing the multi-channel world. Ongoing consumer connection and insight is absolutely essential to deliver the innovation in store that is needed to bolster the business.

@RESEARCH LIVE

1 Comment

11 years ago

Clinton's have been very slow to change and this is why their performance has been so dire. All the research in the world shouldn't replace experience and common sense. For 10 years the online personalised greetings card market has evolved and in the last three years ballooned as customers embrace the concept of making their cards fit more closely not only to the occasion but to the person who is receiving it. Buying cards online provides more choice and more convenience to the consumer. So why is it that a market leader in the bricks and mortar business of selling cards has taken so long to get it's online act together? As usual the answer is not simple but probably lies in the fact that there are too many inherent beliefs and built in interest groups within the company that has made the process slow. Painfully slow. Still Clintons will have an online presence soon confirming what we at www.hephalump.com have known for some time; that is that consumers like choice and convenience and are prepared to pay a premium for it. As for the positioning "Cards for all occasions" - few marketers worth their salt will feel this is a true positioning statement just wishful thinking that you can be all things to all people!

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