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Moving Matalan Onto The High Street DE0929 Grace Lovelady Project Research

"When it's at its best, shopping should be like the best theatre. Fashion shopping should simply be fabulous. Portas, M (2007)"

Introduction Matalan is one of the leading value retailing stores in the UK which offers good quality fashion wear and home wares at affordable prices. Matalan has been around since 1985 so it is a well established and well known retailer in Britain. Shopping in value retailing stores has become popular and more frequent in the past few years. “The value clothing market has been one of the major beneficiaries of the downturn, with estimated sales rising an estimated 6% in 2009 to £8.1 billion” Mintel (2009) The recession has affected peoples spending habits, however people are choosing to spend their disposable income in value retailing stores like Primark and buying large amounts of clothing rather than reducing the amount of clothes they purchase and investing in higher quality garments. “Far from cutting their spending by moving towards classic ‘investment buys’ in clothing, women in particular seem hooked as ever on ‘fast fashion” Mintel (2009) Especially women, the want for cheap, fast fashion has increased and the value retailers such as Matalan are the perfect stores for this demand. Through a survey recently carried out using the results found that although Matalan is a key value retailer, it has a negative reputation with the younger people that were asked, around the ages of 18-30. (See Appendices) In a focus group taken with participants in the age range of 18 – 30 there was negative feedback given about Matalan. The words “cheap” and “horrible” were used to describe the stores from these young participants. (See Appendices) Students and young professionals are keen to shop in Primark rather than Matalan since the main customer for Matalan seems to be aimed at middle aged adults, parents and grandparents found from research in the survey. Using primary research questionnaires were sent out and the results found that the existing customers of an older age said they were happy with the stores and didn’t want change but the younger age groups that didn’t shop there do want change and would shop there if these changes were made. (See Appendices) This research has shown that there is an opportunity for Matalan to ‘revamp’ their look and stores to bring in more customers of a younger age. The aim of this project research is to bring in a new and younger target audience without pushing away the already older and loyal customers that Matalan have who are happy with the out of town stores that are already there. It is of great importance not to alienate the already existing customers by making Matalan unrecognisable to them; however there is need of change. Just as Wally Olins states, “Many great brands are like amoebae or plasticine. They can be shaped, twisted and turned in all sorts of ways yet still remain recognizable”. Olins, W (2003) This will be achieved by creating a new concept store that will be in town and city centres.

Methodology Since the aim of this project has been established it is important to use relevant evidence to support the arguments and questions that will be brought up and asked. To collect evidence for this study there are different forms of primary and secondary research that have been undertaken: Primary Research Methods • Focus Groups • Questionnaires • Online Surveys

Secondary Research Methods • Books • Journals • Websites • Magazine and Newspapers • Articles • Images

These methods of research will help gain information and target the needs of Matalan’s customers and how to target new customers. It will also explain where Matalan currently sits in the market and who its competitors are. Research will also give knowledge about development into the experiential areas of marketing and other innovative methods to entice customers in. Using primary research methods questionnaires were sent out, an online survey was undertaken and a focus group was conducted to explore and gain understanding of a younger target audience. A selected group of individuals in the age group of 18 to 30 were chosen to take part in a focus group that could represent potential new customers for Matalan. The focus group gave an understanding into the age groups wants and motivations when shopping and their perceptions of Matalan. Secondary research is key for the project since books, journals and websites will be used to validate and support the claims made in this project from those already established in the field.

Matalan's Past, Present and Futue Matalan was founded by John Hargreaves in 1985 after he discovered the out of town retailing concept in the US. The stores sold food and other products at low prices in the 1970s which he thought he would introduce to the UK but instead of food he wanted to focus his store on home wares and clothing at affordable prices. “Matalan is a totally unique out of town retailer, committed to providing outstanding value for money. We offer up to the minute fashion and homewares at prices up to 50% below the equivalent High Street price” The first store was opened in Preston and since then Matalan now has grown to having over 200 stores in the UK. Even though Matalan is a well established brand within the UK it has had problems with popularity in the past so several branding strategies have already been used to bring the brand up to date in the current market. On the website (see Appendices) it shows when Matalan’s logo was given a new look back in 2006 which was supposed to help the brand match the ‘fashionability’ of its rivals, Primark and George. The logo was made thinner and less bulky giving it a ‘fashionably skinny’ make-over. On the website (see Appendices) it describes when Matalan introduced a new store back in 2010. The store introduced multi-channel retailing with the implementation of self-service kiosks which were touch screen and experiential for the customers. The store was introduced to give the customers a more emotional and engaging in-store experience. Marc Gobe states the importance of this in his book, Citizen Brand; “People today are keenly interested in buying an emotional experience” Gobe, M (2002) Although these improvements and revamps were made in the past, Matalan still isn’t up there on the high street along with Primark and Peacocks and has a negative reputation with younger audiences. In the focus group undertaken, Aileen says that Matalan is “horrible” as well as Paul and Ruth both

saying that it is “cheap”. So the connotations that come with the words cheap and horrible are all obviously negative which Matalan needs to change and move into the positive. Despite all the above, the company come across confident on their website by promising good value and fully guaranteed products just in case customers are not happy with their purchases. “With our specialist in house design team and with stringent quality control you can buy in complete confidence. All our products are fully guaranteed” Matalan also offer a free loyalty card scheme to their customer which stands them out from the other value retailers like Primark, Peacocks and TK Maxx since they do not offer one. The card gives the opportunity for customers to save up to 50% off high street prices and also gives Matalan the opportunity to understand what each customer purchases so that they can send out coupons and special offers to the cardholders. In 2009 Matalan introduced new clothing sub-brands into the stores which were all aimed at different target customers. For example the brand ‘Be Beau’ they brought in is aimed at younger customers in their teens and twenties with fresh, bright and on-trend designs. The sub-brand ‘Rogers & Rogers’ is aimed at curvy, larger sized women which have flattering designs to suit voluptuous shapes. These sub-brands are part of the ‘shopin-shop’ layout that Matalan stores have. The new sub-brands really helped boost sales, “ smashed internal sales by 250% in the first few months of trading.” (2009) The prices for products from Matalan are low and affordable for everyone with prices starting at just £10.00 for smart wear and dresses. As Portas states, “This is the era of the £20.00 outfit, and the socalled ‘bargainista’ shopper” Portas, M (2007) now is the time to buy from value retailers, due to their low prices and good quality especially now that we are in a global recession.

Matalan currently only have stores located at out of town retail parks which are easily accessible for people with cars and if people are willing to travel to get to the stores. However, this is not for everyone and there is an opportunity for an in city/town store to be introduced which would appeal to more people. This is where Matalan’s future comes into question. What is missing in Matalan stores? What could be improved? Does there need to be stores closer to city and town centres? Yes is the answer to these questions and through primary research undertaken, improvements were suggested which are explained in the next chapter. Along the high-street stores are changing and improving themselves all the time to try and entice more customers in. A good example of this and inspiration for this project is how Greggs the bakery introduced their own concept store onto the Newcastle high street. The bakery presented their new, gourmet style coffee shop named ‘Greggs Moments’ onto Newcastle’s high street to compete with coffee shops like Costa and Starbucks. (See Appendices) This is a great example of a sub-brand that has been implemented to attract more and new customers. Matalan have an opportunity to do the same and create a ‘gourmet’ style store on the high street of their own since they are only out of town at present time. Matalan currently sits in the value retailing section of the market and needs explore new ways into attracting new customers. To be able to actually make it onto the high street the brand needs diversity and more knowledge around the youth market to make it stand out from the crowd and compete with other stores.

Competitors in the Market “Consumers have become adept at looking for cheaper alternatives to the labels they once took for granted, and for affordable versions of the designer names they see in Vogue” Mintel (2009) Matalan faces growing competition from other leading value retailers like Primark, TK Maxx, Peacocks, New Look, H&M and the super-market stores clothing ranges such as George for Asda and F&F for Tesco. Primark is the leader of the value retailers, “With 18m adults (i.e. over a third) buying clothing at Primark in the last year, this is now the UK’s most popular value clothing chain.” Mintel (2009)

“They promote it a lot in Look magazine. It’s advertised a lot more” and Aoife said, “Primark because it’s easy, it’s always on every high street or in every city”. When the participants were asked on why they wouldn’t choose to shop in Matalan, issues such as branding, location, store layout and advertising were brought up, “…I think it’s a lot to do with the like, branding. People don’t necessarily want to buy stuff from The main issue that Matalan faces with its com- Matalan ‘cause of their bad reputation” said Emma. petition is the popularity of it compared to the others. In the focus group undertaken, the par- Aileen said, “I think they should be smaller, ticipants Ruth, Aoife and Emma all said they would they are too big and intimidating” which Aochoose to shop at Primark when asked where they ife also agreed with and suggested that would shop for value priced clothing. Ruth said, there should be “less clothes everywhere”.

The participants also said that celebrities influence what they buy and where they shop. Aoife suggested, “They should get celebrities to wear their clothes” and Ruth also said, “Yeah if Matalan used a celebrity or did collaboration with a designer.” H&M are the obvious store to point out that have successfully used collaborations with designers and celebrities to promote their products, such as Stella McCartney for H&M and Jimmy Choo for H&M. The value retailers Primark, New Look and Peacocks have all also jumped on this band wagon with their own collaborations with designers such as, Pearle Lowe for Peacocks, Giles Deacon for New Look and graphic artist creating designs for Primark. (See Appendices) Competitors like Primark have a better reputation than Matalan, which is why people would rather choose to shop there for value. Reputation and brand values are important since it can make a person determine their decision on shopping in a store or not. “The brand personality defines the content. It defines what the brand stands for.” (2011) Primark are very good at reaching out to their customers and attracting younger customers in, “Fashion-ability and a focus on a young demographic are Primark’s unique selling points and something much of the competition obviously lacks”. Matalan need to compete with their rivalry by coming up with new ways of reaching out to their customers and to new customers. Attracting a younger customer base is their main issue for Matalan at the moment so there is an opportunity here for them to create new strategies on how to bring these new customers in to the stores. “Naturally, these are

we must increase the goals of

the image and profile of undeniable importance”. Kapferer,

the J

brand: (2000)

Matalan's Target Customers “When a brand no longer resonates with its target consumers, it is often time to undertake a rebranding of the product or line to correct this.” Ambrose, G. Harris, P (2011) Matalan are supposed to aim themselves at all age ranges since they have fashion wear and home wares aimed at children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. However, Matalan seem to have a reputation of attracting an audience of parents and grandparents found in research through all the forms of primary research conducted. (See Appendices) The focus group conducted, the questionnaires filled out and the online survey carried out all nearly had the same result when asked what age group people would put Matalan under. This was Parents and Grandparents.

Through questionnaires sent out to people of different ages there was feedback similar from each age group (see Appendices). After researching through the questionnaires the results found that 75% of the 18 to 24 year olds that filled it out did not shop at Matalan and some of the comments on why were, “It is out of town and a hassle to get to” and “I don’t like the layout-it always looks too messy and busy”. However, 57% of all the other people in the age groups above 18 to 24 said that they do shop at Matalan and some of the comments on why were, “Fashionable items at a competitive price” and “For cheaper versions of high street items”. So it is clear from the questionnaire that Matalan are not appealing to the younger age so they aren’t shopping in the stores however the older ager ranges do like to shop there. The main customers for Matalan at this present time are of an older age ranging from 35 and older.

Different ages result in different perceptions and opinions about Matalan as a brand. In the focus group conducted the age ranges of the participants were from 20 to 23 so they were all in the younger age group that Matalan really need to target. Their perceptions and opinions of Matalan were almost all negative. Paul said, “I wouldn’t shop there because I don’t have a clue what they sell” and Ruth said, “It’s got a real factory look about it, you know like high ceilings, which puts me off”. However a few participants that filled out the questionnaires that fell under the older age categories made comments about Matalan such as, “It’s fine for my needs” and “as long as the store is well maintained and upgraded, good value and plenty of choice, it should suit everyone”.

Although each age group had different opinions on their perceptions of Matalan, nearly all of the participants in each method of primary research said that Matalan had room for improvement. Areas such as the stores layouts and the customer service were brought up as well as the brands logo and their packaging and baggage. The target audience doesn’t seem to be clear enough which is shown in the primary research conducted. Matalan state on their website that, “Matalan offers something for all the family”. however the opinions expressed in the questionnaires and the focus group tend to state that Matalan is for older people and the younger generation don’t want to shop there.

The Recession “Today, it is hard to escape the doom and gloom of the impending economic crisis. But MINTEL believes that value clothing could be the perfect antidote for many fashion fanatics” www. When conducting primary and secondary research, the same issue came up which has been affecting peoples shopping habits, the recession. We are in a global recession at this moment in time and people are looking to value retailers instead of their usual high street or designer stores. “Over a third (36%) of adults are buying more from value clothing retailers and these stores (e.g. Primark, Matalan) have outperformed the clothing market” Mintel (2009) If the recession is making people turn to shopping in value retailers then Matalan have the opportunity to use this to their advantage. “This obsession with cheap fashion from shops such as Primark, Asda and Matalan has led to a growth in the value clothing market” Found through the questionnaires sent out (see Appendices) only 13% of the participants have not been affected by the recession but the other 87% have in one way or another. However people still want to shop for fashion but now at cheaper prices. “…Brits today can’t get enough of sniffing out a good deal, with 70% saying they love a bargain, and 30% wanting to pay as little as possible for their clothes” The recession is the current issue in today’s society and Matalan need to stay current and up to date with their customers’ needs in this economic climate to entice them

Enhancing The Brand A stores environment is an important part of the shopping experience for a customer. “Good brands can make us feel secure and they can make us dream. They can bring fun, hope, sensory experience, comfort and an overall added dimension of personality.” Gobe, M (2002) The experience is a necessity, as customers want to leave a store happy and have enjoyed their shopping experience. This however seems to be the downfall of most value retailers, especially Matalan. “The shopping experience is still seen as poor by the overwhelming majority, and retailers need to work harder to improve it, particularly with store design”. Mintel (2009) Improvements to stores such as the layouts and logos can really make a huge difference and to attract more customers into the shop. Some brands and stores take on new strategies such as rebranding and brand extensions that can be necessary and successful. “In reality brand extension is a remarkable development”. Olins, W (2003) Found in the primary research undertaken (see Appendices) participants mentioned that Matalan’s store layouts were a problem as well as where the stores were located, the customer service and the way Matalan was advertised and promoted. Packaging was also an issue because Matalan use plastic, shiny bags and participants of the focus group said how the bags that high street shops use make them more appealing. Annabelle said, “All high street shops use brown paper bags. They look really posh” and Aoife said, “Even Primark doesn’t look as cheap anymore now that they have started using brown paper bags. It looks a lot better than plastic bags and it’s better for the environment”.

There are a few reasons that are stopping younger customers stepping into Matalan stores. Such as the window displays and the way that Matalan is actually advertised. The main reason seems to be because they are not accessible for the younger generation due to being students living in town/ city centres, out of the way of retail parks where Matalan stores are located. Also, these younger customers may not have ways of transport to get to the stores and as well as all this, they might not want to make the effort to travel to the stores. Why would they if Matalan isn’t advertising the brand well enough? It would be much easier for them if there were one located nearer to them. In a town/ city centre maybe? In the focus group undertaken, the participants were asked if they would shop in a Matalan store if it were located in a city or town centre and the replies were as followed, “If they promoted it, yeah” and “yeah well if I’m in town and see a new store I’d go in”. One of the participants, Ruth had an opinion on a new Matalan store, “It should look quirky and unique like a boutique shop”. From the feedback given on enhancing Matalan, the concept of a new in town and city centre store seems to be given much approval but the want of a new look and theme of the Matalan store seems to be a necessity to bring in younger customers. In the questionnaires sent out 43% of all the participants said that they prefer to shop in smaller boutique style stores.

The Concept From all the research and data collected a concept on how to move Matalan onto the high street and to bring in new, younger customers has been achieved. This is to create a “spinoff” concept store targeted at students and young professionals, as it will be located in town and city centres. The new concept store will have influence from boutique stores and have a minimal themed layout. “A boutique is a superbly effective means of communication through which you establish your trade mark, your image, with the public”. Kirkpatrick, G (1994) It would only sell fashion wear and only provide key pieces from Matalan’s in store brands like ‘Be Beau’ which is a clothing range aimed at young people. The “spin off” store should be appealing since it would be more accessible compared to the out of town stores that Matalan have, especially to students who live on campus in city/town centres and to young professionals who work in these centres. Matalan is renowned for selling high-end brands such as Calvin Klein and Lee Cooper at up to half the price of what it is on the high street. So garments from these brands would also be available in store for sale. The new boutique styled store would be smaller than the usual Matalan stores however it would be spacious and enjoyable to shop in opposed to the stressful shopping experiences the participants of the focus group said they have in stores like Primark and TK Maxx, due to the amount of clutter and lack of standards they have. Paul said this was because they were “really messy” and Emma pointed out “their layout is like a big supermarket with all the lanes”. It says on the Matalan website that, “by keeping overhead costs low and operating on lower margins MATALAN is able to offer unbeatable value” so this would still play a major part in the new concept store by reflecting this mission in the stores layout and minimal theme. Low overhead costs and lower margins can be portrayed in the way the store is visually merchandised. Because Matalan is strongly linked with good value at low costs it would be natural for the brand to use this to its advantage by using this as the concept stores theme. Playing with Matalan’s mission to create the new stores theme would hopefully still interest the already existing customers and invite new customers in. The aim behind the whole concept is to get more customers excited about Matalan and to create a ‘buzz’ and ‘hype’ around the brand. “The companies behind these brands all have one aim – to re-ignite a passion in consumers for a brand which has lost some of its magic” Datamoniter (2009)

Project Research Outcome The aim of this project research was to find out whether there was an opportunity for Matalan to enhance their brand within the value section of retail and to find out if a new target customer base could be found and made interested in the new concept. There were problems with why Matalan were not reaching out to a younger customer base such as the lack of advertisement and promotion aimed at younger people and the main problem found, from research undertaken, was the location and layout of the stores. The main concerns are that younger people can’t get to the out of town stores that Matalan have since some of them don’t own cars and because they don’t want to make the effort to travel to them. This results with them not actually knowing what the stores have to offer like the sub-brand ‘Be Beau’ Matalan have that is aimed at younger people. If they don’t know what is in the stores then why would they make the effort to shop there? However, research found that the older, already loyal customers of Matalan were quite happy enough with the stores and didn’t want them to change so this created a problem with the aim of this project research. Yes, a new, younger customer base is trying to be targeted and researched throughout this project but the problem of alienating already loyal customers could come into the equation.

This issue actually helped shape the final outcome of the project research. From discovering that the different age groups wanted different things this helped conclude that a new concept store located on the high street could be a success because it would be accessible to the students and young professionals as well as Matalan’s current customers. Since the concept would be all about Matalan and keep in mind the brands mission, it should not alienate current customers and as well should attract new customers by being innovative and fresh on the high street. From all the research gathered, the results found that: • People want fast fashion at cheap prices • There needs to be an in town/city Matalan store • The shopping experience is important and shouldn’t be stressful • Store standards of Matalan need improvement which will be implemented into the new concept store • Promotion and advertising needs improvement These results were predicted in the introduction which concludes that this project has been a success with the help of in depth research that has shaped and improved the outcome.

Word Count Total – 4,512 Word Count Excluding References – 3,899

Bibliography Books Ambrose, G. Harris, P (2011). Packaging the Brand: The relationship between packaging design and brand identity p18-19 Gobe, M (2002) Citizen Brand Kapferer, J (2000). Reinventing the brand: Can top brands survive the new market realities? p112 Kirkpatrick, G (1994). Shops & Boutiques Olins, W (2003) On Brand: Thames & Hudson Portas, M. Cross, P. Sims, J. Rickey, M (2007) How to Shop with Mary, Queen of Shops: BBC Books

Journals and Mintel Reports Datamoniter. (2009). The Pitfalls of Undertaking Rebranding Strategies in the Consumer Domain. Rebranding Case Study. 1 (1), p1 MINTEL (2009) Value Clothing Retailing-UK-December 2009.Available: www.oxygen.mintel. com MINTEL (2010) Fashion: Impact of the Recession –UK-June 2010. Available:

Websites Branders. (2011) Concerning the relationship between brand and reputation. Available: http:// branders_brand_reputation.pdf. Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Bumpus, J (2010). Giles’ New Look. Available: Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Cope, S (2011). Pearl Lowe for Peacocks Autumn/Winter 2011 Collection. Available: http:// Last accessed 29th Nov 2011

Cosgrave, B (2009). Giles’ New Look. Available: TMG6538353/Jimmy-Choo-for-HandM.html. Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Drapers Online. (2009).Be Beau bolsters Matalan’s like-for-like sales. Available: Last accessed 5th Dec 2011 Grobel, W (2006). Matalan Logo is Fashionably Skinny. Available: http://www.intangiblebusiness. com/Brand-Services/Marketing-services/News/Matalan-rebrands~388.html. Last accessed 15th Oct 2011 Jenny. (2009). Matthew Williamson’s new designs have finally arrived. Available: Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Just-style. (2009). Value clothing retailers shine amid recession. Available: Last accessed 18th Oct 2011 Matalan Online. Philosophy. Available: content. Last accessed 30th Oct 2011 Marketing Week (2011). Fashion designers reaching out to the high street cultivating new consumers or losing their edge? Available: Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Mintel. (2008). Value Clothing Retailing. Available: Last accessed 18th Oct 2011 Parsons, R (2011). Greggs opens first coffee shop. Available: sectors/food-and-drink/greggs-opens-first-coffee-shop/3030590.article. Last accessed 17th Oct 2011 Realwire. (2011). Matalan’s new store opts for multi-channel selling with Protouch kiosks. Available: Last accessed 29th Nov 2011 Topcuoglu, S (2005). Stella McCartney for H&M in 400 Selected Stores from November 10. Available: Last accessed 29th Nov 2011

Project Research-Moving Matalan Onto The Highstreet  

Final Major Project - Project research for Fashion Communication. Rebranding of Matalan

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