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John Ryan

Fortnum & Mason Knows How to Spread the Message

There is power in field marketing tactics




IF YOU LIVE in the U.K., the chances are probably close to 90 percent (or more) that you’ll have heard of Fortnum & Mason, the grocer-cum-department store with a flagship on London’s very posh Piccadilly. The chances are also equally high that you may never have passed through the doors of a Fortnum & Mason – there just aren’t very many, and it’s also aimed at those with a pretty high level of disposable income.

Yet the message about Fortnum’s is out there, and if there is one thing that is associated with this brand, it has to be the wicker picnic hamper with the letters “F&M” stenciled in black on it. What better way therefore to capture the attention of those passing through the glamorous rail terminus that is London’s St. Pancras station than to create a giant hamper that acts as a piece of field marketing, a place from which samples of Fortnum & Mason goodies can be dispensed.

There is, in fact, a branch of F&M little more than 100 yards away, it’s part of the collection of near-luxury stores that line the international concourse (you can board a train from St. Pancras to Paris almost every hour) in this station, but it would actually be quite easy to miss, so rich is the panorama that greets the time-pressured shopper in this location.

A clever idea, but just as adept is the manner in which signs, in the retailer’s signature aquamarine color, have been attached to the rear of the hamper, detailing distance and direction of all the Fortnum & Mason stores across the globe. It’s a reminder that this is a place in which you can buy items that will be recognized and appreciated the world over. The perfect place to pick up a gift before you board the train.

Field marketing is occasionally subject to somewhat unkind comments as retail directors wonder what its purpose might be. In truth, and done well, this is a powerful way of reminding existing customers about who you are while at the same time endeavoring to garner a few fresh recruits.



John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



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