News Exchange: Moving up and moving out

News Exchange: Moving up and moving out

A weekly update on the latest headlines and highlights from the marketing sector

Customer first, not business first

After five years at the top, Aldi and Lidl have been split as the top two in YouGov’s 2018 Brand Index rankings. The German discounters had taken the top spots for each of the last four years but, while Aldi is number one for a fifth time, Lidl has been overtaken by Netflix and For CIM marketing director Gemma Butler, the supermarket pair are still a lesson in the value of strong customer relationships. “They don’t have dedicated customer loyalty schemes, but they have been transparent, consistent and, crucially, keen on price.”

The most interesting trend from the new rankings, says Butler, is that the brands with the four most improved scores are all transport firms. British Airways turned a negative 2017 score into a positive, while Southern trains, Uber and United Airlines all showed strong signs of recovery. “They had each suffered reputational damage for different reasons in the last couple of years, but they have all clearly recognised a need to change,” says Butler. “Some have come further than others, and some still have a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see organisations such as these recognising that there is significant value to be gained in rebuilding customer trust.”

It remains to be seen whether the quartet can break into the top 10, but they might do well to study the rise of Netflix, which first made the top 10 in 2016 and is now up to third overall. In a fast-growing subscription streaming market, says Butler, “A combination of outstanding content and outstanding promotion of that content has got them there. They know their community and are not afraid to interact with them.” Indeed, Netflix promoted recent release Bird Box extensively with interactive and shareable memes. “It’s clear that the brands coming out on top in today’s climate are those that know their customer, understand their journey, and commit to keeping them.”

The Body Shop goes back to the future

The Body Shop was a mainstay of British high streets in the 90s. Known for its social activism, which began with a joint anti-whaling campaign with Greenpeace in 1986, it was bought by L’Oréal from founder Anita Roddick in 2006. At that point it got lost in the middle of the cosmetics market as consumers expressed doubts about whether its new owner shared the brand’s ethical principles. In 2017, L’Oréal sold up to Brazilian multinational Natura, which also owns Australian brand Aesop – another cosmetics specialist that emphasises its plant-based ingredients.

Under Natura, The Body Shop is rediscovering its activist roots. “This shift in ownership certainly seems to have helped The Body Shop return to its founding principles,” says CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone. “It is not just taking on that heritage – it is building it back into the brand and making it a core part of its offering again.”

As well as launching new products that have been well reviewed on social media, The Body Shop has now pledged to turn its high-street stores into ‘activist hubs’ that fully integrate its ethical stance. Confronted with the growing threat from online retailers, many bricks-and-mortar store owners recognise the need to differentiate themselves. “There’s a risk in focusing on in-store experience above product sales, because this can be an expensive investment,” says Lee-Boone, “but if you can tie the experience back to your product, you’ll be in a much stronger position.”

That’s exactly what The Body Shop has done and, despite increased competition from the likes of Lush, it is now poised to reclaim a prominent place in town centres across the UK.

Dyson heads to Singapore

Billionaire inventor and vocal Brexiteer James Dyson has been accused of “staggering hypocrisy” for moving the headquarters of his company from Wiltshire to Singapore. Will his business suffer for its eponymous leader’s political views?

Technology giant Dyson announced last week that it would be relocating two senior executives to Singapore. At first glance, that’s not exactly front-page news. However, because company owner James Dyson is an outspoken Brexiteer – he’s even called for a no-deal departure – there has been a furious response. MPs from different sides have spoken of a “betrayal of the public”, a “culture of short-termism” and the aforementioned “staggering hypocrisy”.

The company has insisted the move has nothing to do with Brexit. “There was certainly always going to be a backlash to this story, which has unfortunately served to introduce yet another complication to the perfect storm of Brexit,” says CIM head of PR and engagement James Delves, “but this action seems to be more symbolic than practical.” Dyson will still employ over 4,000 people in the UK and in 2017/18 was one of the biggest taxpayers in the country. “However, consciously becoming a ‘global technology company’, rather than a British firm, is an interesting move for the company – and may well have long-term implications.”

The latest move can be justified as part of a long-term strategy that first saw Dyson shift production to Malaysia in 2002. Right now the company is readying itself for an attempt on the electric car markets in China, Japan and South Korea, which are all much more easily accessed from Singapore. But its significant UK presence would surely have protected it from accusations of desertion – were it not for its owner.

For Delves, however, there is a bigger lesson: “In the face of Brexit, and with increased competition from other markets, we must work hard to retain the businesses we have within the UK, and ensure we continue to attract new ones. If Dyson – a Brit, a Sir – can go, others certainly can and will follow, and the marketing industry should be prepared for this.”

If you’re looking to make a move, find your next opportunity on the CIM Marketing Jobs board.

Tobias Gourlay Journalist
Gemma Butler Marketing Director CIM
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