Monday, May 11, 2009

Social Network put pressure on M&S and the retailer responds

Can Social Networking sites influence companies decisions? Some large organisations might say probably not as they surely know it more...however this was not the recent case of Marks & Spencer. Some time ago it had announced that it would have started charging more for larger bras and unlike most retailers, it was going to impose a surcharge of £2 for bras with a cup size above DD .

This did not go unnoticed and with today's spread of social networking Beckie Williams was very fast to set up a lobby group on Facebook called "Busts 4 Justice". This group was set up last summer as she was was fed up paying extra for her 30G bras and saw such policy simply "ridiculous". However the company did not give in immediately and said that it's surcharge was actually fair as it reflected the extra cost of producing a bra for larger bust sizes.

The Facebook group gained momentum as it counted more than 17,000 members and soon other media groups followed in this campaign. Media groups such as the Sun and the Daily Mirror were in the forefront to support the unhappy consumers. After some months and various complaints, last week M&S gave in to customer demands and decided to ditch its surcharge...

The company is also trying to use humor to excuse itself from this failure as it took out full-page adverts in the press to tell consumers that from last Saturday, all bras will cost the same. M&S admitted that "They boobed" as the adverts says: "We were wrong, so as of Saturday 9th May the storm in a D cup is over." The store is also offering a further 25% discount on bras for the coming two weeks to excuse itself and try to recover some of the bad publicity.

Social Media can thus be an effective lobbying medium as this was not the first time a Facebook campaign has played an important role in persuading a company to change its route. Some two years ago HSBC turned down plans start charging graduates for overdrafts after a group set up by the National Union of Students attracted more than 4,000 members. Hence we need to be more aware of the power of this medium and listen more to our customers...

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