What’s In Store For Debenhams?

Debenhams is looking to fight back on the high street. How can we use the social media comments of customers to understand if the management has got it right?

In August we looked at how customers of House of Fraser used social media in the period before the department stores group went into administration. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but in the case of HoF, there was a growing body of evidence from customers that all was not well on the shop floor.

Moving on to this week and the focus of the media and investors has moved on to another high street retailer, Debenhams.

Unlike House of Fraser, the outlook for Debenhams is still in the balance. Debenhams has lost a lot of money, but the company appears to have the makings of a plan to reinvigorate its relationship with customers.

Stores will close and more sales will be completed online. High street sites which survive the cull will become ‘sociable, easy and fun’ places offering customers ‘experiences’ including prosecco bars and beauty treatments.

If the Debenhams management gets it right, we would expect to see evidence of an upturn in positive social media posts from customers. The novelty factor of the new stores format may have an initial impact, so what we’ll be looking for is a sustained improvement in customer sentiment over time. If that happens, the company’s operating performance should be in a better place next year.

The data in the infographic uses Newton Insight’s emotiQ segmentation model to analyse the social media reactions of 140k customers between January 2015 and October 2018. Sentiment is calculated by rolling up the results for eleven distinct positive and negative emotions. We welcome opportunities to talk with investors and industry commentators who want to use social media to boost market insight. Please contact us at info@newtoninsight.net


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