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Are Primark Smart to Trust Consumers?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
16 November 2007

You may have recently spotted Primark in the trade press, talking about how they don’t need to do any sponsored advertising on sites like Facebook because their consumers are doing it for them. The story cites a Facebook group called "PRIMARK APPRECIATION SOCIETY", which currently boasts 97,000 member – not bad numbers by anybody’s standards. But are Primark missing the point by ignoring the opportunity to interact with their customers in their own, sponsored page?

Now I’m not saying that Primark are necessarily taking the wrong route by "bucking" an official Facebook presence, but I can’t help but think that if they had an official group, most of these members would migrate anyway – there seems to have been some sort of shift in the fabric of time and space which has resulted in Primark being considered as cool, and what better way to show your appreciation than by setting up and official page and offering members discounts or exclusive offers? Plus, they have the added benefit of being able to answer or respond to members who have questions or feedback – thus making themselves seen to be keen to listen to their consumers.

I’m not saying they aren’t listening to consumers on the group already, but I can’t help feeling that Primark haven’t really taken a close look at the activity in the "appreciation" group… The situation reminds me a bit of the slightly nerdy kid in the playground who people pretend to be friends with because it’s funny (I can say that – I was that child!). Are there REALLY 97,000 people evangelising about how wonderful Primark’s produce is…? Let’s have a look at a selection of the more choice messages on the group’s wall:

"omg as if theres a group for primark!! lmao i had to join"

"Hi!!!! Any Fellow Employees on here?!?? I work at Primark, Preemark, Shitemark… Whatever u call it…"

"I’m going to primark 2night. I love that place! It reminds me of my bedroom; with all that shit on the floor."

"Primark is the unofficial 8th circle of hell! I point blank refuse to enter on a weekend and fight tooth and nail to not go in any other time. It’s like a messy, disorganised jumble sale with clothes all over the floor and far too many people."

"Everything I buy lately is the wrong size on the the hanger or tag to the label inside when I get it home :( or has a teeny hole in it!!! Primarni is going down in my estimations this week!!!"

"http://www.guardian.co.uk/ I think anyone who likes to shop at Primark should read this article."

"…has anyone noticed that although the prices are still really low, they are creeping up a little? is primark getting ides above its own stations?"

"the manchester one is sh*t lately. had the same stuff in for months"

"can I just say the one in bristol is SHOCKING SH*T. one floor, clothes everywhere, not enough staff.. its hell.. :("

So there we have it, not all quite as rosey as Primark might have you believe. Don’t get me wrong, there are also dozens and dozens of messages talking about how cheap and wonderful their clothes are, but they are intersperced quite liberally with messages like the above – something that Primark could avoid – or better still, digest and respond to – if they had their own official presence.

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