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Marks & Spencer hopes for digital shopping surge at Christmas

Marks & Spencer predicts a surge in shopping via phones and tablets thisChristmas, as it launches its festive advertising campaign.

In contrast to John Lewis’s emotional yuletide TV ad launched on Friday morning, M&S features dancers, models with bobble hats, gift ribbons and a giant handbag, as well as sparkly puddings and a penguin cake.

The main M&S ad, which is celebrity-free for the second year in a row, has a modern feel with a besuited female drummer and a stark black and silver set. The retailer said it would devote more than a quarter of its advertising spend to digital channels this Christmas.

Marks & Spencer will release its glitzy ads to its Sparks loyalty scheme members on Friday afternoon before a 5pm launch on social media, where M&S says it has 4.5 million followers .

It predicted sales via mobile devices could rise by more than 50% this season. The ad will launch on TV on Sunday during Downton Abbey.

Sparks, which has 2 million members after adding 200,000 in the past three days, will play an important role in the campaign with special events in-store such as wine tasting.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks & Spencer’s executive director of marketing, said: “We think 2015 is going to be the biggest online Christmas ever in the UK … first and foremost for inspiration and browsing, which will be at an all-time peak on smartphones and shopping as well.We are seeing amazing growth in mobile engagement … from being about search related it is really now about purchasing as well.”

The growing popularity of the click and collect system meant people were likely to leave their shopping later than ever, Bousquet-Chavanne said, but it would be a better Christmas for retailers than last year.

“Customers are clearly feeling better than last year according to a variety of consumer confidence indexes we think confidence is up 4%. They are feeling more festive and joyous and there is greater pent up anticipation,” he added.

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M&S would be spending slightly more than last year on the creation and distribution of its ad, but more than 25% would be spent on digital channels compared with about 20% last year.

Bousquet-Chavanne said M&S had tried to create “mini-moments” that would build up to Christmas as it attempted to stay in tune with the way most people manage their festive plans. “It is less feature film and more on-trend box set,” he said.

Echoing the M&S chief Marc Bolland’s expectation that Christmas would be “spiky” this year, Bousquet-Chavanne said predicting shopping patterns was tricky because of the rise of the Black Friday discount day in the UK, which takes place on 27 November this year.

However, he suggested there would be three or four days when online visitors would surpass 200 million – including Black Friday and the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday, as it previously marked the biggest online shopping day of the year.


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