July 2013

How M&S Could Prove the ‘Reputation Dividend’ of Plan A

How M&S Could Prove the ‘Reputation Dividend’ of Plan A


As Mark Bolland prepared to face restless investors, concerned at fashion sales falling over 8 successive quarters, he reaffirmed the company’s commitment to its sustainable ‘Plan A’ policy.

Quoted in The Guardian, he said, “In the long-term, for this company to stay in the hearts and minds of customers, shareholders and all stakeholders, the brand needs to be built around trust and Plan A builds strongly around trust.”

How can companies facing similar tensions, between mitigating short-term losses and maintaining investment in long-term sustainability projects, provide evidence that this is the right strategy to shareholders?

One way we work with organistations to do this is by monitoring corporate reputation and tracking the impact this has on business.

Mark Bolland can quite rightly point to M&S not being implicated in the recent horsemeat scandal or the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, as the results of its ethical approach.

This is a more powerful argument if it is also backed up with evidence of how this had benefited the wider reputation of the brand – both in terms of promoting trust and also in mitigating reputational risk.

By using reputation tracking tools to not only assess reputation, but also to assess the damage caused to that of other brands, boards like M&S’ can begin to make the commercial as well as ethical case for pursuing such policies.  Demonstrating the impact of the Reputation Dividend for investors.