It was recently reported that Clintons is considering a mass closure of up to 120 of its 393 stores, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. Clintons has had a bumpy ride in recent years, and despite being saved from administration by card maker American Greetings in 2012, it has struggled to secure its position in the competitive market of card retail.
Whilst its parent company has come out to strongly deny rumours of planned store closures, instead claiming plans of ‘new store format trials’, it is impossible to deny that speculation is mounting about how Clintons is faring.
Is Clintons suffering at the hands of online shopping?
Clinton Cards’ main challenge seems to be the duo of a steady decline in high street footfall and the ongoing rise of online card suppliers. Having said that, card retailers such as Paperchase and Card Factory are clearly demonstrating that the in-store retail model is far from broken. Despite an increasingly squeezed middle market, Clintons does not necessarily have to close its stores, it just needs to find its position in the marketplace and own it.
Plenty of brands occupy the middle market successfully by understanding exactly who their customers are and building strategies to target them effectively. Clintons needs to invest more heavily in customer insight so it can gain a greater understanding of how to engage its target market if it wants to drive sales.
By conducting a thorough audit of its customer base and using third party data, Clintons can create highly targeted profiles of its customers to determine vital purchasing patterns and drivers. This in turn will enable it to understand how to build loyalty among its customers and encourage people to step back into its stores to make a repeat purchase.
While e-card retailers such as Moonpig have the upper-hand in terms of convenience, many consumers do still enjoy the tangible qualities of walking into a shop and spending time selecting a card for a loved one. This can be seen across a range of sectors and greetings cards and gifts are no different.
Moonpig is successful because it is highly convenient; however, it also owes a lot of its success to time invested in customer insight and segmentation. Through careful data analysis, Moonpig is able to market to people as individuals, appealing to customers’ specific interests and increasing their brand allegiance. Clintons needs to follow suit. Offline or online is a red herring in this case.
Scott Logie is managing director of REaD Group Insight