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Trust helps M&S become the store we’d all hate to lose, as the retailer celebrates its 125th birthday

Marks & Spencer’s presence on our high streets is the most valued by shoppers as one in five (22%) of Brits vote the iconic retailer as the business they’d least like to see disappear from the High Street go bust, while a further 22% claim it’s the most trusted high street retailer, according to a new survey commissioned by specialist marketing agency Baber Smith.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, aimed at uncovering consumer shopping habits during the economic downturn, reveals that the majority (22%) of Brits would be upset if M&S, which this week celebrates 125 years in business, became a victim of the credit crunch and was forced to close its doors. M&S is joined by Boots (13%) and Tesco (13%) as the top three retailers Brits would hate to see leaving the high street.

Baber Smith’s study quizzed Brits on their shopping habits during a particularly gloomy period for the retail industry. The research reveals:

• A good selection of products (54%), good value for money (48%) and a good reputation (31%) are the three main reasons shoppers would hate to lose their favourite High Street retailer
• Online shopping may be popular with the younger generation, but the majority of Brits (32%) still prefer to do their fashion shopping in the town shopping centre, compared with the 15% who buy their goods online
• Ethical business practises have dominated retailers’ agendas in recent times but only 17% of consumers identify this as an important factor in establishing trust.

It’s not all about price in the current climate

Retailers may believe that ‘flash’ and ‘unseasonal’ sales are strategies best suited to increase footfall in this recession. However when GB consumers were asked why they would be upset if a retailer went out of business, only 25% stated ‘low prices’. This is compared to 48% who identified ‘good value for money’ was a more significant factor in them being upset for losing their favourite retailer.

Reputation is key

When asked why they trusted their favourite retailer, over half (55%) of British shoppers claimed a good reputation was the reason behind their trust in the retailer. Two fifths (40%) cited quality products as the main reason for placing their trust in a retailer, while a good refund and exchange policy was imperative for a third (33%) of shoppers.

M&S tops with young shoppers

Marks & Spencer may reign supreme with the majority of shoppers, but it is also the shop of choice for consumers aged 18-24. The majority of this age group (17%) voted it as the shop they would be most upset to see disappear from the high street.

Commenting on Baber Smith’s research, Dr. Alain Samson, a consumer psychologist affiliated with the LSE, said: “Brand image, reputation, product and service quality, as well as perceived value all play a role in shaping a consumer’s overall view of a retailer as this research has shown. Amid existing negative consumer sentiments in the current economic climate, companies also risk consumer dissatisfaction and distrust if they no longer live up to their pre-recession promises. A retailer looking to increase footfall in their shops by implementing cost-cutting tactics should proceed with caution. If the quality of products or services falls as a result, such practices may contribute to customer distrust of that particular brand in the long term.”

Sam Jordan, MD, Baber Smith said: “With cash-conscious consumers paying closer attention to the purchases they make, retailers are now having to fight harder than ever to maintain levels of consumer trust. As our research shows Marks & Spencer is leading the way with a strong focus on offering high quality products, at good value, upholding its good reputation. In this recession, retailers have only one opportunity to get it right otherwise customers will vote with their feet.”


For more information contact:

Kate Moloughney:
Kat Selley:
0207 201 0600

Notes to Editors:

The research report can be downloaded at
The full report can be obtained by emailing
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was1979 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st - 23rd April 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About Baber Smith

Established in 1995, Baber Smith is the UK’s fastest growing marketing agency.
Focussed on building success for clients by delivering results without comprising brand messaging, Baber Smith’s believes ‘every pound spent, should grow the brand and get the tills ringing’.

Baber Smith prides itself on an approach that encompasses a range of ATL, direct and digital channels to create campaigns that deliver both short-term effectiveness and drive a brand’s strategic development. Actively gaining insights and understanding from the key internal and external stakeholders of a business allows Baber Smith to ensure their work helps marketers align brand communications and business strategy for organisations.

Working across a number of disciplines including branding, advertising, direct marketing, digital, customer publishing and in-store marketing Baber Smith has specialisms in the Retail and Financial Services sectors and is also the UK’s leading agency of choice for 'destination' marketing. Baber Smith’s clients include American Express, Dixon’s Store Group, Brent Cross Shopping Centre and Royal Bank of Scotland.

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