Monthly Archives: November 2018

First steps for Mothercare: will it save the troubled brand?

Mothercare blog

A couple of weeks ago British retailer Mothercare released its first significant ad campaign in a decade entitled ‘First Steps’ intended to capture those first moments parents experience. This campaign comes following the news that the retailer will close 50 of its 139 stores by June 2019 with 900 potential job losses. This decision is driven by the fact that the longstanding brand experienced pre-tax loss of almost £73 million for the financial year to March 2018 and it’s just announced blooming half-year losses. So will the First Steps campaign assist to turn the retailers’ fortunes round?

The campaign must be applauded for being very ‘real’ -using images and models which resonate perfectly in the ‘real’ world. Avoiding the Instagram perfection and clichés many may be led to believe are indicative of motherhood and parenting, it has a comforting reality of life across any demographic and nationality. However, for me, it doesn’t speak to a wider audience and as a ‘turnaround’ campaign, the message needs to be broader to attract all pockets to come and spend in-store.

The ads are articulated beautifully, drawing on the raw emotion of being a parent and it will resonate with parents or those expecting, no doubt drawing them into or back to the brand. However, the ad seems to have forgotten people who aren’t in the same position, perhaps an aunt, uncle, godparent or friend who has not yet or has no desire to experience parenting, whom therefore may not share the same emotional connection.

They are also potential shoppers, some may argue with more disposable income, who also need to be attracted to the brand to spend. The wider the appeal of the ad, the more it increases the odds to attract shoppers of any kind. Surely, this should be the objective of this desperately needed turnaround campaign which is all about increasing sales.

In the UK the average annual birth rate is 670,000 births (Office of National Statistics) and the market value for this sector is £7.3bn and estimated to grow by 2021 +2.3% in clothing and 4.4% in Footwear (Euromonitor) and research from 2017 indicates that 64% of shoppers prefer to touch and feel products in this category, 48% prefer to research products in-store resulting in 58% of sales created in physical retail (Pragmarket). The opportunity for growth is therefore evident for any retailer in this sector, especially an established brand like Mothercare, as while it’s unlikely that the nation will stop giving birth, people can be influenced where we shop.

The customer experience must reflect the emotional journey the brand takes its audience through in these ads and translate it onto the shop floor. The creative and sentiment that’s applied to the ad, the real and caring traits it communicates must be applied to staff, the store layout, its ranging, staff training and the advice they give to a new and likely tired parent or complete novice when shopping for infants.

A clear message which translates from ATL to the in-store experience is crucial to ensure a clear measurement of ATL and to convert awareness to revenue. A successful ATL may well bring customers back but a poor customer experience may make that crucial first hello, the last.

And here’s the real dichotomy for Mothercare, do they invest more money in the remaining estate to make the shops a truly engaging experience and destination for people or leave them wondering what their role is in the ‘real world’ – I know which strategy my money is on!

For the full article visit The Drum

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Gekko Team Member Katy Sessions talks about why the Manchester Pride’s equality charter is needed.

Manchester Blog

At Gekko we are very proud that our team member, Katy, contributed without fear in this Manchester Evening News article talking about the Manchester Pride’s equality charter. It is important to us, as an equal opportunities employer, that Katy was able to speak out knowing that it would not affect her career at Gekko.

It’s a great article and we look forward to hearing more from Katy in the future.

Below is the full article including a link to the charter.


Why Manchester Pride’s equality charter – which will promote inclusion and safe spaces across Greater Manchester – is so needed

Manchester Pride’s work is at the forefront of public attention over the August bank holiday weekend, when thousands flock to the city for the Big Weekend festival and parade.

But away from the rainbow flags and the world-famous musicians, the work doesn’t stop.

One of Manchester Pride’s latest projects will see them launch an equality and inclusion charter, asking businesses across Greater Manchester to sign a pledge.

That pledge will mean they commit to promote equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ people, as well as other minority groups, and will provide a set of principles and values they will be expected to meet.

But why exactly is something like this – something promoting basic human right regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, age, social status – necessary?

We spoke to two attendees of one of Manchester Pride’s charter workshops to see what problems minorities face in the workplace.

Sally Carr MBE is the operational director for The Proud Trust, which runs youth groups, peer support, training, events and the LBGT Centre to support young people.

She said: “These days, everything is aggravated by mobile devices – it’s so easy to spread hate crimes and insults at the touch of a button.

“Legislation on the whole has changed to benefit LGBT+ people, but the experiences young people go through are still a problem.

“There’s definitely a fear of coming out in the workplaces. Sometimes the unsaid can speak volumes.

“Micro-aggressions can affect mental health but also physical health. There’s a condition called hypertension which leads to high bloody pressure and symptoms like grinding teeth, and it’s been proven that it affects LGBT and BAME people, and women, the most.

“That can’t be good for employers. If we want the best talent, and the best productivity, workplaces need to be inclusive and safe for everyone.

“It’s important to recognise that diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. Just because a company hires an LGBT+ person does not necessarily mean that they’re inclusive – they might not put minorities in senior positions and then minorities still don’t get a voice.

“Diversity just means people are more aware, it doesn’t necessarily mean that attitudes and behaviours will change. That’s the challenge.”

For many who have been lucky enough to not encounter discrimination, particularly in the workplace, it can be hard to understand the scale of the issues facing LGBTQ+ and other minority groups.

Katy Sessions, who works for marketing consultancy firm Gekko, told us: “It’s not something that ‘normative’ straight people worry about, truthfully.

“I myself have been really lucky that I’ve not experienced discrimination in the workplace. I didn’t have a difficult coming out story or any struggles.

“But I’m aware of really disgusting behaviour in some workplaces. Stereotyping, patronising behaviour.

“Because of my position, because I’ve never been rejected for who I am, I feel that I’m in quite a privileged position where I can speak out for others without fear.

“One major problem with inequality in the workplace is the lack of LGBT role models for young people to look up to. Growing up I didn’t have anyone to aspire to – I still don’t really.

“Young kids don’t see anyone like them that they can aspire to be like. Even when there are LGBT people in prominent positions they often don’t speak publicly about their sexual identities, especially in certain industries like sport.

“I know of someone who works in Manchester who has avoided telling people at work that she’s gay, for fear of how it will affect her career.

“Where are the role models for kids? David Isaac [chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission] is one of the only clear examples I can think of.”

Katy, who volunteered at a youth centre in her 20s, hopes that the equality charter will provide safe spaces for all people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations.

Once Greater Manchester businesses feel safer to minorities, they are more likely to be open and honest with their situations, and that could slowly but surely change the experiences of future generations.

“I hope the charter will do a few things,” she said. “I want it to provide safe spaces. To encourage positive role modelling for younger people who are different to the majority of their peers. I want young people to feel like they have permission to aspire to bigger things.

“Creating a truly diverse and inclusive city is a long process, and this charter won’t be the answer for everything. But it’s a start, it’s a step in the right direction.”

You can find the full article in Manchester Evening News here.

You can find out more about Manchester Pride’s charter here .

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Tech industry reactions to the 2018 Budget

PCR Blog Image

On Monday, Philip Hammond has delivered his third Budget as chancellor. Within the speech a number of things were announced that would affect tech companies and retailers in the UK.

Here’s what the tech and retail channels had to say about the announcements:

Business rates bill

Hammond announced the business rates bill for firms with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will be cut by a third over two years.

Dan Todaro, MD of Gekko: “The introduction of a review for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, Intended to cut their business rates bill by one third is a positive step realising an annual saving of up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

“In some locations this is perhaps too late when you consider the vacant properties on the diminishing high street. It also does not help those retailers, multiple or independent, with a larger footprint. For stores which anchor the high street such as Debenhams, HoF, M&S etc. the reduction in business rates for these retailers by local authorities, delivers a longer term tangible wealth to the community.

“This government constantly refers to a ‘dividend’ for all, which is used entirely in the wrong context, as there’s no dividend for communities who’s high street have already been decimated and resemble ghost towns.”

For the full article please visit PCR

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