M&S wellbeing drive seeks to combat autopilot trend

Marks & Spencer is aiming to improve the wellbeing of Brits by encouraging them to snap out of "autopilot" behaviours, its top marketer has said.

Bousquet-Chavanne: ‘This is about making people feel better about themselves’
Bousquet-Chavanne: ‘This is about making people feel better about themselves’

On 1 June, the retailer will hold "Make It Matter Day", comprising activity in stores and across digital channels. The event will encourage people to make small changes, such as limiting technology usage, to gain more control of their lives. 

The initiative follows research by M&S and Opinium involving 3,000 adults. The study found that making decisions without conscious thinking was common, with 96% of participants admitting to it. This habit was also revealed to be having damaging effects: 39% of those surveyed said they were on autopilot while relaxing at home, limiting time that could be spent engaging with family and friends, and 44% have forgotten something important, such as locking the front door, while on autopilot.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director for customer, marketing and M&S.com, said Make It Matter Day is a manifestation of M&S’s new campaign, "Spend it well", which was created by Grey London and launched this month. The TV spot encourages consumers to reject aspects of life that do not ultimately contribute anything worthwhile. 

The strategy came from efforts to "understand the psyche" of the M&S shopper, Bousquet-Chavanne said, in order to identify messaging that would resonate with the "wide church" of the brand’s 30 million-plus customers.

He continued: "They had much more in common than we thought in terms of how they looked at life in the context of the changes in society, culture and the economy. We realised they shared a desire for greater quality of time, whether it was about things, events or people."

The autopilot phenomenon was being perpetuated by a "deeper sense that life is moving faster", Bousquet-Chavanne explained. This habit was found equally across age groups and was linked to heavy social media use.

Making small interruptive changes, such as altering your commute or trying something new each week, could be "great for mental health", Bousquet-Chavanne added: "This is very much about making people feel better about themselves. There is a great sense of empowerment that this campaign can generate as an output."

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).