What brands can learn from John Lewis & Partners value driven approach

We recently launched The Most Connected Brands Index to help businesses and brands understand how they are connecting with consumers and provide them with ways to improve. Adrian Day, Consultant, helped contribute to the report:

‘Brand fan’ is one of today’s more enduring marketing buzz words, but very few brands actually achieve a critical mass of ‘fans’, people who will recommend the brand enthusiastically and unequivocally. John Lewis & Partners is one of those brands. Time and time again the company figures at or near the top of brand league tables. And, moreover, it has achieved this elevated position amongst the discerning and cynical British middle classes.

But this year John Lewis has had a hiccup; in the summer the company revealed it would only make a negligible profit and the Partner’s bonus would be trimmed again. Indeed a few Waitrose stores (the John Lewis food brand) are being closed.

Yet in the wider context of the British High Street, John Lewis is actually holding up very well. Other retailers (and weaker brands) such as House of Fraser, Mothercare, Maplin, BHS and Toys ‘R’ Us have been in much greater trouble; some are no longer with us.

John Lewis has garnered loyalty over the years because of its much lauded strategy of offering excellent service, price matching and quality products. The strategy is supported by highly-motivated staff, each of whom is a Partner in (and therefore part owner of) the firm. John Lewis has also been relatively successful in encouraging consumers to make online

And unlike many of the High Street’s ‘basket cases’, the company is fighting back. Leadership realises that the future of High Street retail lies in focussing on experiences that can’t be replicated online. So John Lewis is introducing personal shoppers (20% of the brand’s womenswear sales in the Westfield store are through personal shoppers), themed events, concierge services and evening classes. And the brand is being stretched into other services such as plumbing, electrical wiring and other trades.

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the company, sums up the future strategy as follows: “Our plans put differentiation, innovation and partner led service at the heart of our offer (rather than scale)”. The company is also redesigning stores, refreshing its visual identity and amending the name to ‘John Lewis & Partners’ to signal the unique ownership structure† and deep involvement of employees in the company.

There are many fans hoping the strategy succeeds and that John Lewis remains a brand they can buy from.

Adrian Day, Consultant