Ugh, a post about Primark…

Thought I’d post up something from my advertising and branding module… here goes!

It’s surprising when you go into your local shopping centre how many different kinds of stores with contrasting brand aims are placed next to one another, it makes a pretty convenient juxtaposition for research. In the Overgate in Dundee alone you can find the full gamut of price and quality ranges of clothing stores.

One of the higher ranked stores is Topman and Topshop. This is a store which wearers typically pride themselves in investing in. All of the produce in-store is their own brand of product, proudly covered in their own brand imagery. Every product is intended to reenforce the Topman brand. If the store back their own image and are proud to put it onto their products it imbues a greater confidence in the overall brand image.

This is all reflected in the space in which the clothes are sold. Topman and Topshop sales floors are generously spacious, with tastefully designed signage and stylishly attired staff members. It’s a space that’s designed to deliver an enjoyable shopping experience, something over and above the product they’re delivering. This is exemplified nicely in the photograph of the footwear section where the items are given a comfortable amount of space for display, with an equally comfortable amount of space for seating.

When you walk in the door of Topman the first thing you encounter is the most recently released items, to accentuate that they compose themselves as a style-focused clothing retailer. Even the signage for discount items is subtle and focused purely on style, rather than indicating where the cheapest clothes are at a first glance. This assumes people will want to spend time in the store and not rush themselves out. It’s all about enhancing that overall shopping experience.

I then went to the end of the Overgate to find Primark, a comparative oddity in terms of branding. Topman and Topshop advertise extensively, and clearly put extensive effort into maintaining a contemporary image. Primark on the other hand keep advertising and branding to an absolute minimum. Despite their size as a corporation they refuse to advertise themselves through adverts or the web, and only have the most basic and informative of websites. Their window displays and signage is minimal and informative, so as not to aim at any specific demographic, unlike the highly focused strategy Topman/Topshop employ towards a younger audience, hence their eagerness to remain contemporary. Customers upon entrance to the store are greeted by garish red labels designating sale-rails and end-of-line items at discount prices.

This results in all of Primark’s publicity coming solely from word of mouth. Consequently the image of Primark is in the hands of the public, which has worked partly in their favour. The name frequently hits headlines in news stories, but this image of Primark is one of incredibly low prices, hand in hand with incredibly low quality. When a customer buys a product they are pleased with from Primark it is often met with a surprised reaction at the source of the product, as Primark is a brand not proudly boasted about. This is echoed by the store itself, branding all of its clothing ranges completely separately from the Primark name. This implies a lack of faith in the Primark name, though this is an image already established. To break such an image would require funds and effort Primark would rather not spend, to alter a market position they’re already perfectly comfortable in.

See the perception map below to see a wider selection of clothing retailers in the British market and their perceived value vs quality measures. Once you look it’s easy to see why Primark aim for the image they do. The arena Topman and Topshop find themselves in is a saturated one, whereas in the current economical climate it makes sense to appeal to the public as a ‘value’ brand.

Listening to: Butter by A Tribe Called Quest

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