With a dated brand image, it is no surprise that M&S sub-brand Per Una is under review along with its sister brands. While the retailer is under pressure to evolve its proposition and better cater to a younger audience, axing Per Una could prove detrimental given its strong resonance among mature customers.
According to GlobalData’s 2018 UK department store survey, Per Una is the fourth most shopped clothing brand at the chain. Among female M&S customers, it is the second most shopped, after M&S Collection and ahead of Autograph, with 27.4% purchasing from Per Una in the past 12 months.
Originally targeted at 25-35 year olds, Per Una was once one of M&S’s star performers, with the retailer stating in its FY2009/10 annual report that it was its most popular brand. Despite its attempts to get shoppers back onside, M&S’s overall appeal has diminished; however Per Una remains an attractive brand among the female 45+ customer base, with 40.9% buying into the brand in the past year – making it the most shopped brand in this demographic.
Given its slow-moving turnaround and ongoing clothing market share erosion, M&S cannot risk upsetting its core customers by ditching the Per Una range. Brand reinvention is however necessary, with a need to invest in refining its design handwriting and streamlining its product options to minimise duplication. Though Per Una has plenty of brand personality, dialling down the use of extravagant and fussy embellishments, floral patterns and lace fabrics would help to make the Per Una offer more tempting, and create a more sophisticated and modern brand which could be used to drive customer acquisition.