John Lewis – A Disaster Or A Model To Follow?
The headlines for John Lewis are not good. However, look under the surface and the future looks far brighter.
The good news is that JLP has recently invested heavily in differentiating the business, primarily by growing its sales of own label brands. But, the bad news is that the business continues to send out mixed messages to its customers. Any student of Treacy and Wiersema would see the conflict immediately.
The business models for John Lewis and Waitrose are very much founded on customer intimacy, yet they have a slogan “never knowingly undersold (i.e. never beaten on price) that would appeal to the efficiency (or low-cost) sector of the market.
What is both sad and disappointing is that JLP offers so much more, which core customers truly value. For instance, a two-year warranty, a no-quibbles return policy, staff that are well trained. I could go on.
It's really encouraging to see that John Lewis and Waitrose are fighting back in what is a very tough market. I am a great fan of a lot of what they do. I would just like to see them focusing on their core customers and expounding the subtler aspects of their differentiation, starting with a more appropriate slogan. I wish them well.
About the Author: Tony Prouse
Tony Prouse is a well-respected strategic mentor. From his personal experience and through his work with the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University, Tony has been instrumental in developing strategies for a wide range of businesses.
Get Strategic Tips
Receive tips to develop your business strategy skills and differentiation today!