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New Product Development – Marks and Spencer

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    Abstract

    This is an essay about the new product development in Marks and Spencer. The methods used of product development are discussed and the problem areas are pointed out in them. Suggestions are made to overcome these problems.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Retail Industry

    The retail industry has become very competitive in UK. There is a plethora of giant stores offering an array of consumer goods. Consumers have a wide range of retailers to choose from including Wal Mart/Asda, Sainsbury, Morrison, Waitrose, M&S, Somerfield, Aldi, Lidl and Netto, other smaller supermarkets, Costco and Makro, the Co-Ops, Symbol groups (e.g. Premier, Costcutter and Spar) and thousands of independent retailers.

    NPD in the Industry: competition and customers

    These stores are on their toes trying to study the market and consumer behavior and they keep introducing new products to keep the customers intrigued and brand loyal.  In the last five years, larger stores have seen an increase of 40% in their product range. Introducing new products also enables them to explore new markets. In this process several retailers like Tesco, M&S and Sainsbury and Morrisons have seen major setbacks in business and recouped. Consumers have become very conscious and since they have a huge variety to choose from, retailers use new product introduction as a tool to lure customers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marks_&_Spencer)

    Marks and Spencer

    Marks & Spencer plc has several branches outside of the UK. It is one of the most widely nown chain stores in the UK and is the largest clothing retailer in the UK, as well as being a multi-billion pound food retailer. Most of its outlets sell both of these categories. It also has a third line of homewares such as bedlinen, but this is smaller than the previous two categories. (BBC, 1998)

     

     

     

    Need for NPD at M&S

    Retain consumers

    New product development is important for M&S because firstly it has to keep up with the changing needs of the consumers or they will shift to other stores which could really bring the business down.

    Replace failing products

    New products have to be introduced so that they may be able to replace the existing failing products that are not doing good business and therefore new products serve as a tool to boost business bringing the market share up.

    Increase Market share

    M&S witnessed a sudden slump and Per Una range of clothes was introduced which helped bring business some stability and increase market share.

    Explore wider markets

    Consistent introduction of new products will enable M&S to explore wider markets and consumers. In 2006 M&S opened a technology department in 13 flagship stores selling technology goods which brought in a new set of customers widening the customer horizon.

    Competitive edge

    Also, they will help M&S survive in the market of ever changing trends and give a tough time to competitors.

    Fresh look

    New innovative products will give a fresh look to the company and attract new customers. This year they launched as new web store which serves as convenience for customers enabling a wider range of products to choose from. This enables them to reach out to more customers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marks_&_Spencer

     

    New Product Development Proposal

    Idea generation

    The first step towards introduction of a new product is the generation of an idea for a product. For this, research has to be conducted and the company has to know what the consumers need and demand. M&S has always had a weak research that is one of the major reasons they had a business slump earlier. M&S had to sell of its financial services to HSBC as it could not retain it and was not profitable. They incorrectly researched the market only to realize later that it was a failed product. Their recent idea of an online store seems a good idea as it is in line with the changing shopping trends.

     

    I think that M&S should invest more on the research department and be in closer contact with the target market and come up with products that are needed by them instead of introducing products that they think are needed by the consumers.

     

     

    Idea screening

    The financial services idea was very indeed and it is something that the target market uses, however, it went downhill. This is because they failed to realize that it would require a lot more investment and the profit percentage was lower. The idea should have been screened out instead of being invested upon. (Jirlendsson, 2000)

    Concept development and testing

    The introduction of Per Una served to work very well with the firm. The concept was very well thorough after a through research of the market. The company realized that there was a need for a change in market. The association of the brand Next and George Davis was a well-thought idea. The Italian name of the brand perfectly fitted the market need and gave the upscale image the brand needed.  Their research revealed that they needed a line for older core customers and they were able to retain them with Per Una. (Jirlendsson, 2000) However, they need to do the same with other products as well.

     

    Business analysis

    In order to fight competition, M&S has to reanalyze its product processes and analyze whether a new product will work efficiently for the company or not. Prices have to be lowered and there has to be an increased focus on quality. This is because competition is offering lower prices and M&S has to do to do the same.

     

    Beta testing and market testing

    Also, the company has to be very careful now when introducing a new product as it has stabilized a little currently it can’t risk introducing a bad product again. For this they have to be very careful and test market the products in the target market before introducing it all over. (Jirlendsson, 2000)

     

     

     

     

     

    Commercialization

     

    This is where the company has always fallen short. For a long time, M&S only relied upon traditional methods of promotion. Competition used TV as a media for advertising since 1955 but M&S resorted to rely on its reputation as a medium to introduce new products to the customers. This turned out to be threatening in the long run as the products failed to build connect with the consumers especially the younger age slots who were more prone to watching TV. It was only in 1990’s that M&S started using TV for advertising. Today it is using celebrities in commercials to build image of their brands with brand ambassadors. The company discontinued StMichaels and introduced Your M&S and is now using it for advertisements, in -store merchandising and online presence. However, there are mixed opinions about this new brand and whether it works to build loyalty or not. This shows their lack of research and what the consumers really wanted. The marketing of the new product is very important and identifying the right market for the product is the crux of it. A good product introduced in the wrong market will obviously result in a failed product. The medium of marketing have to be advanced and in accordance with the target market. (August 2002)

     

     

     

     

     

    Recommendations

     

    I think the company needs to build a connect with the consumers and be closer to them studying them closely so that when they introduce a product in the market it is what the consumers need and not what the company feels the market needs. There is a major problem in the research department and the company needs to make it more efficient. M&S had been disassociated with the younger generation and did not know what they required. What the company needs to do is evolve with time and be proactive researching the needs of the consumers. When a new product is introduced, the ambiance of the outlets has to match its newness as it greatly contributes to enhance the new product. New appearance, better trained staff, more efficient modes of payment like acceptance of credit cards which were introduced a lot later and technological advances have to accompany the introduction of the new product.

     

    Also they should separate their food from clothing range and brand them separately. New product introduction should be concentrated in the clothes business and investment should be made in its image building. Further expansion of the food business should be curtailed as it is showing a downward trend. This will reflect badly on any new product on the portfolio of M&S. Your M&S doesn’t make sense to me as it is not what the customers want and cannot connect to it. The Autograph range has been doing well and appears as if a lot of market research has been done before its introduction. No wonder it fit in well in the niche. (August 2002)

     

    M&S has to focus more on the market, studying them thoroughly. They have to be proactive and introduce innovative products to keep the consumers intrigued. For this they have to concentrate

    References

    Jirlendsson, (2000) The New Product Development Process. [Online]. Available: http://www.hi.is/~joner/eaps/cq_npd1.htm

    (1998) Marks & Spencer profits top expectations. BBC News [Online]. Available:

     

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/96531.stm

     

    (August 2002)Marks & Spencer introduces its own organic logo. [Online]Available: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DQA/is_2002_August_29/ai_91138358

    (August 2002) M&S sells US chain Kings. [Online]Available: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DQA/is_2002_August_1/ai_90216901

     

    (2007) History and Future [Online] Available:

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marks_&_Spencer

     

     

     

     

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