In the following report the marketing strategies of Next PLC, a British based clothing and home products retailer will be researched and analysed before recommendations for possible improvements are provided. This report will analyse the company marketing strategy by assessing the marketing mix or the “4 Ps” of product, price, place, and promotion as well as the environment in which the company operates. Once this is completed, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy will be conducted followed by recommendations on future strategy to ensure further growth.
The Next brand was established in 1982 and now has over 500 stores in the UK while also operating internationally with over 180 overseas stores (Financial Times, 2015). Additional sales channels were added with the launch of Next Directory in 1988 before expanding to include online shopping in 1999 (Next PLC, 2015). This points to an early implementation of a multi-channel retailing strategy which has been a key factor in their growth and success, and they have established themselves as the most advanced multi-channel retailer in the country (Mintel, 2013).
The main target market for Next has long been the middle class in 25-45 age range for both genders interested in mainstream fashion, although there may be a slight increased focus on women’s fashion continuing on from the brand’s early strategy (Next PLC, 2015). The needs of customers are ever-changing and retailers such as Next must ensure their marketing and sales strategies are appropriate to the needs of the market (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2012).
The market is the location where merchandise can be bought and sold while marketing is the process of identifying target markets and setting strategies for product development, pricing, promotion and distribution (Armstrong et al, 2012). Therefore, to effectively analyse the company’s marketing strategy it is important to understand the state of the current environment of the intended target market.
The current economic climate has improved in recent years following the downturn of 2008, however, it is still fresh in the memory of consumers and conservative spending habits will remain for some time.
However, despite constraints on disposable income, clothing purchases continued to be the preferred choice for excess income for consumers prioritising spending. This saw market growth throughout the year with sales increasing by 4.5% bringing annual consumer spend on clothing and accessories to Â£49.8 billion in 2013 (Mintel, 2013). This is due to consumer confidence increasing throughout 2013 as the economy recovered and consumers feeling more financially stable (Elliot, 2013).
Since its launch, Next has established itself at the top of the UK clothing market and accounted for 7.2% of all clothing retail sales in 2012, making them the second largest clothing retailer in the UK (Mintel, 2013). Following this success, they surpassed main competitor Marks & Spencer and forecast higher annual profits for the first time (Ruddick,
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