Assortment Analysis of Marks & Spencer

Women’s Shirts & Blouses


本文引用了SWOT模型对英国Marks & Spencer公司进行分析,从优势,劣势,强项,威胁这四个方面进行分析,结合up-to-date的数据,对公司的产品进行了完善的分析。


Section 1 SWOT analysis of product range

Strengths: 1) Appendix 1 mainly compares the category, size, colour, price, material and brands of women’s shirts and blouses that are sold in Marks & Spencer (M&S) with three of its competitors, which are ASDA (new entrant), Next (similar retailer) and ASOS (online retailer). It is obvious that M&S has more categories of women’s shirts and blouses than other competitors. Moreover, M&S is the only retailer that shows material information of its clothes on their website, as well as the only one that has a customer-rating system, which helps M&S to improve its products and services through customer reviews and feedbacks. 2) M&S considers the needs of customers who are very slim or very large, as it provides maternity, petite, plus shirts and blouses to them. 3) The size range of M&S’s women’s shirts and blouses is deep. As Appendix 2 shows, the most popular sizes that is targeted by these four retailers are UK size Small, Medium and Large. M&S prepares more than 300 SKUs in stock for these three sizes, which should compete with ASDA and Next. 4) The colour range of women’s shirts and blouses of M&S is wide, as there are 14 available colours provided to customers, 2 more than ASDA and Next provide. 5) As Appendix 3 shows, most of M&S’s shirts and blouses are under Good price range (£0 – £40), which means M&S has low price positioning. 6) The brand range offered by M&S is deep. Compared with the private-label portfolios provided by ASDA and Next, the M&S Collection offers more styles. 7) Compared with Next, it is cheaper to gain a UK home delivery from M&S. Also, it is free when customers have orders over £50 in M&S (Appendix 5).

Weaknesses: 1) The size range of M&S’s women’s shirts and blouses is not wide, as there is no size 2, 4, 30 and 32. Although M&S has maternity, petite, plus shirts and blouses, there are few blouse choices under each type.  For example, under maternity type, there is only 1 item available for customers. 2) Compared with ASOS, which has 17 available colour choices, the colour range offered by M&S is not wide enough. Also, most colours that M&S provide are basic colours, such as blue, cream, and black, which are monotonous. 3) The price range offered by M&S is narrow, as most of women’s shirts and blouses of M&S are under price range of £20 to £40. However, there is no item under price range of £40 to £60 and above £100. 4) The brand range offered by M&S is not wide, as it only provides 10 brands with 240 items to customers, including its own brand, M&S Collection. However, its competitor ASOS, provides 63 brands with 419 items to customers, including some popular brands such as French Connection, Jack Wills and River Islands. 5) Compared with its competitors, M&S gives smaller discounts to customers (Appendix 5). 6) M&S only provides 3 basic delivery options to UK’s customers, but what ASDA, Next and ASOS provide are more convenient and flexible for customers (Appendix 5). Also, M&S makes international delivery to over 30 countries, much less than Next (to over 70 countries) and ASOS (to over 100 countries) (Appendix 5).

Opportunities: 1) It is estimated by Mintel that between 2013 and 2018, the women’s fashion market will increase by 22%, since the recovery of the UK’s economy, women’s confidence has increased (Sender, 2014). In addition, in the first quarter of 2015, the Consumer Spending increased to 279,428 GBP Million compared with 176,832 GBP Million in the last quarter of 2014 (Trading Economics, 2015) (Appendix 6). 2) According to Sender (2014), in the next five years, shoppers between 25 and 34 will increase by 7% to become one of the major cosumer groups. Additionally, because of  the aging population, women of 55-years and over will have more influence on the womenswear market (Sender, 2014). 3) From 1993 to 2012, the rate of female obesity in the UK has increased significantly by 9% (Sender, 2014). Although recently, the rate has slowed, it still remains high (Sender, 2014). 4) Today, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues become more and more important. Although M&S has already launched PLAN A, it mainly focuses on store management such as using solar energy to generate electricity (Marks & Spencer, n.d.). The opportunity for M&S is to consider introducing eco-friendly clothes to customers, as this could help M&S to build an eco-friendly image and increase customer confidence about this company.

Threats: 1) It is predicted by John Hawksworth, who is the Chief UK Economist, that the UK economic growth will slow to approximate 2.5% in 2015, compared with 2.6% in 2014 (Global Economy Watch, 2015). Also, according to Trading Economics (2015), the GDP Annual Growth Rate decreased from 3.4% in January to 2.6% July in 2015. Correspondently, the Consumer Confidence decreased from 7% in June to 4% in July of 2015 (Appendix 7 & 8). Thus, for the price-conscious customers, low-cost retailers such as Primark, would have more competitive advantages than M&S. 2) The new entrant, ASDA’s George, which moved into clothing market in 1990, “has overtaken Marks and Spencer to become Britian’s second-biggest clothing retailer by volume” (George, n.d.; Felsted, 2014). The new entrants make the competition levels in the market become even stronger.

3) According to Mintel (Sender, 2014), “three quarters of women browse for clothes online”. Thus, online retailers such as ASOS, which provides abundant clothing choices and convenient delivery services to customers, bring a big challenge to M&S.

Section 2 Range recommendations in next year

Range strategies: 1) According to Sender (2015), young women aged between 16 and 24 continue to be one of the major customer groups to retailers, however, as the aging female population keep increasing in the following years, it is important for retailers to consider the needs of mature women in the next year. Firstly, it is necessary for M&S to provide a wide size range of women’s shirts and blouses to women aged over 55, as according to the research, “older women more likely to be plus-sized” (Sender , 2015). Thus, M&S should extend its size range to size 32 (upper limit), and introduce more blouses under Plus collection. Secondly, women aged over 55 are more likely to consider the quality of clothes than other features, thus, to attract this customer group, M&S need to improve its products quality. Thirdly, M&S need to prepare more shirts and blouses that mainly target older women in stores, as they might not have the knowledge to browse and order clothes online. 2) As it mentioned above, young women continue to be the major consumer group of fashion sales .To satisfy this group of consumers, M&S need to introduce more fashionable shirts and blouses for young women, such as oversized blouses or denim slouch shirts. Also, it should provide smaller sizes such as size 2 and 4, as well as blouses in more young and special colours such as gold, silver, pink and multi-coloured. 3) According to Appendix 3, it is obvious that most of women’s shirts and blouses that are provided by M&S are under ‘good’ price range (accounts for 98% SKUs). This is a price strategy that M&S uses to attract price-conscious customers and rational minimalists. However, Schwartz (2006) proposed that “more isn’t always better’. Also, it is believed that to cut down choices in a given category could boost sales (STR Team, 2012). Thus, it is necessary for M&S to reduce choices under ‘good’ price range appropriately (which should account for 30% of total SKUs), in order to reduce stocking costs and avoid choice paralysis. Moreover, according to “the decoy effect”, M&S should put more stocks in to ‘better’ price range (40% of SKUs), in order to achieve “trade-up”. Furthermore, apart from ‘good’ ‘better’ ‘best’ price range, M&S should have shirts and blouses under ‘premium’ price range (over £120, accounts for 10% of total SKUs), which provide special style, high quality and high fashionable clothes to customers. 4) M&S could put private-label eco-friendly women’s shirts and blouses into the range, in order to improve its CSR image. 5) M&S could learn from Uniqlo (a Japanese clothing retailer) to introduce online-clothing-collection to customers, which means some of women’s shirts and blouses that could be designed by celebrities, or have special features or prints, will only be sold in M&S online. Moreover, it could learn from H&M to corporate with some luxury brands and introduce premium women’s shirts and blouses.

Section 3 Support for range success

Definition: 1) Support might includes two main dimensions, which are in-store management such as store design and layout and out-store management such as customer services, in-season management such as advertising, promotion and markdowns. 2) Success: according to Brandes and Brandes (2011), a number of dimensions such as service, pricing, marketing and location selection need to be well considered and good perfomed , in order to achieve retailing business success.

In-store management: 1) According to Smith (2014), “consumers are hungry for frequent newness”. Thus, it is important to let consumers know immediately after retailers introduce new collections. In store, M&S should install tablets in each departments such as womenswear, which allow customers to check new arrival clothes, promotion information and find the styles they want to buy.

Out-store management: 1) As it mentioned in threats section, women, especially women aged under 35-year-old, are more likely to browse and shop clothes online, instead of visiting stores (Sender, 2014). This causes a decrease of sales volume in stores, as women aged under 35-year-old are the major clothing consumption group. It is suggested by Sender (2015) that, retailers could take advantages of innovative technology to bring these consumers back to stores. For example, when people walk around the M&S store in  Market Street, Manchester, they will automatically receive special offers  through their smartphones (Sender , 2015). 2) As online shopping becomes more and more popular, the cost of delivery and delivery options would matter to customers. M&S should co-operate with large delivery companies to decrease delivery costs and increase delivery speed, as well as increasing its delivery services, for example, provide ‘order by 6 pm free next day delivery to store’, or ‘next day delivery to home –evenying delivery’. 3) According to Sender (2015), there are high rate of returns for online-purchased clothes, which increase the costs of retailers. Therefore, retailers such as M&S should collect feedbacks from customers to understand the reasons behind the high return rates, and then adjust product ranges and gain improvement. Also, M&S should encourage consumers to return clothes to their closest stores by giving them £1 voucher, in order to reduce return delivery costs.

Section 4 Theories

Section 1 1) M&S’s positioning and targeting: low-positioning price; middle-age female customers; high quality; better availability; a leading international, multi-channel retailer (Marks & Spencer, n.d.; Sender, 2014). 2) Three-tiered pricing: good (=lower price), better (=higher price) and best (=highest price), has been used to compare the price positions of M&S and its three competitors. (Mohammed, 2013; Gray, 2012)
Section 2 1) M&S’s positioning and targeting: low-positioning price; middle-age female customers; high quality; better availability; a leading international, multi-channel retailer (Marks & Spencer, n.d.; Sender, 2014). 2) Conceptual framework of assortments decisions: Environmental Drivers (altered information flows, economic & marketplace turbulence, concerns about sustainability) – Consumer Preferences (changing store patronage, price sensitivity and variety sensitivity) – Assortment Offering (multi format portfolio, growth discount format, expanding PL portfolio) – Implications (welfare, logistical, tactical) (Dekimpe et al., 2011). 3) Assortment planning technique:  Identify the most important attributes that customers want and need – Analyse current and potential sales by attribute – Optimize the assortment – Localizing the assortment (Fisher and Vaidyanathan, 2012). 4) “More isn’t always better”: research shows that when consumers face a large amount of choices, they are less likely to buy any products or services, and also, their satisfaction will decrease (Schwartz, 2006). 5) “The decoy effect”: People not only compare things, but also compare things that are easily comparable. For example, when customers face three price ranges of shirts and blouses, they will firstly look items in the middle prices range. Once they realize that blouses in the ‘best’ price range have more features than in the ‘better’ price range, but the price difference is not big, most of them will choose the higher price blouses (Gray, 2012). 6)“Trade up”: ‘best’ price range is important as consumers are very likely to trade-up from ‘better’ price range to ‘best’ price range (Fisher and Vaidyanathan, 2012).
Section 3 1) Best practices: Zara, Topshop, H&M, New Look and River Island (Smith, 2014).

Appendix 1 – Product Range


Appendix 2 – Size Range (based on UK size)



Appendix 3 – Price Structure




Appendix 4 – Price Structure (use M&S’s price structure as base)




Appendix 5 – Online offer & Delivery options





Appendix 6 United Kingdom Consumer Spending




Appendix 7 United Kingdom GDP Annual Growth Rate




















Appendix 8 United Kingdom Consumer Confidence




  • Size small, medium and large continue to be the most popular sizes. However, plus size will become more important than before as the high rate of female obesity and increasing older women (over 55 years old) consumers.
  • Eco-friendly materials and products will bring extra revenues to retailers.
  • Innovation technology will be used to attract customers, and revenues from shopping through official website and app will increase.





原文链接:英国Marks & Spencer SWOT 分析