The retail giant, which this week confirmed Marketing's prediction that its financial services arm would be rebranded under the name Marks & Spencer Money (Marketing, November 14 2002), is to plough a seven-figure sum into a TV advertising campaign to promote &more.
The national roll-out of the scheme on October 6 follows an 11-month test in South Wales. It marks one of the most significant marketing innovations in M&S's history. The chain did not accept credit cards until 2000.
Designed to boost customer spending in M&S stores, customers will be awarded one loyalty point for every £1 spent in M&S, and one point for every £2 spent elsewhere.
The &more card will offer a standard retail APR of 14.9%, compared with M&S Chargecard's 18.9% APR, up to 55 days' interest-free credit and no annual fee.
A customer communications strategy, developed by TBWA\GGT, will inform 2.6 million M&S Chargecard holders about the scheme through direct mail, while the TV spot has been created by its agency, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.
Marks & Spencer Money chief executive Laurel Powers-Freeling said: "We will provide our card customers with an upgraded offer, rewarding them for using the &more credit card and their loyalty for shopping at Marks & Spencer, while developing our position as a responsible and prudent lender."
In May, when M&S announced group operating profits up 21.1% to £761.8m for the year to March 29, it said it would invest £60m in the loyalty programme roll-out.
These costs would take in infrastructure development, customer service provision and acquisition and card issue expenditure.
Although it refuses to disclose targets, M&S believes it can become a powerful player in the credit card market while providing an incentive for consumers to spend more in M&S stores. The company is also investing in a homeware retail concept called M&S LifeStore, which will be piloted in Gateshead in February.