M&S chief hails data strategy as Sparks leads revival

M&S apes Waitrose for loyalty roll out newMarks & Spencer has reaffirmed its commitment to data-driven marketing by insisting it wants data analysis “to become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand”. 
Chief executive Steve Rowe made the pledge as the retail giant reported a fourfold rise in pre-tax profits to £118m in the six months to September 30 as its clothing division saw a 5.3% increase in full-price sales.
At the results announcement, M&S revealed that the Sparks loyalty programme – launched in October 2015 – has signed up 7 million members, and is now at the forefront of personalised communications and special offers.
On taking up the CEO role in April last year, Rowe said one of his first jobs would be to tap into the data the retailer has collected from its Sparks scheme to gain better insight in to its core customer.
Despite criticism that the scheme is just “paint by numbers loyalty”, Rowe said Sparks would be crucial to helping it to build a closer relationship with its customers.
Today Rowe said: “Sparks has 7 million members but that is nowhere near its full potential. We want data analysis to become the glue that sits above our business units and underpins the brand. The relationship between Sparks, M&S Bank and online can help us to deliver truly personalised experiences.”

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