Waitrose Direct’s Mother’s Day Strategy Reveals Brand Infringement Is All Too Real

Lorna Gill Posted by Lorna Gill

Besides Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day is traditionally the time when flower bouquets fly off the shelves. From the data, we can tell you that a smart strategy in this industry centres around brand terms and attention to possible brand infringement.

Flowers are the traditional gift for Mother’s Day, whether you opt to head to your local florist, search online to get them delivered, or buy them from a local supermarket.

Historically, flowers dominate search traffic around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – according to Pew Research, the latter holiday has dominated online searches in previous years.

This year, however, Mother’s Day failed to gain the traction it had in the past, but that didn’t stop High Street retailers from using their online presence to boost rankings.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flower_Trend.png” title=”Top flower providers share of voice, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flower_Trend.png”][/lightbox]
Top flower providers share of voice, Adthena data

Analysing the top search terms for all Mother’s Day gift keywords across supermarket competitors, this year was a two-horse race, with Marks and Spencer and Waitrose Direct taking the lion’s share of search traffic. John Lewis managed to gain some traction after the event, but it couldn’t keep up with the two other competitors.

Although Marks and Spencer and Waitrose Direct were almost neck and neck in the few days leading up to Mother’s Day, Marks and Spencer was the clear winner on the day before and the day itself – March 15th.

But why were these two companies’ strategies so competitive, and why did Waitrose Direct plummet on the Sunday before the big event?

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flowers_Keywords.png” title=”Flower keywords trend, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flowers_Keywords.png”][/lightbox]
Flower keywords trend, Adthena data

Sponsored search results show an interesting trend – the brand term Marks and Spencers Flowers and Marks and Spencer Flowers dominated search trends, with Mothers Day Presents coming third. Both Mothers Day Gift and the only other brand term, Morrison’s Flowers remained comparatively flat, with only a small spike on the day preceding the event.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/MS_Flowers.png” title=”Waitrose versus M&S share of voice trend, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/MS_Flowers.png”][/lightbox]
Waitrose versus M&S share of voice trend, Adthena data

Digging a little further, it seems Waitrose Direct owes its success to Marks and Spencer’s brand terms, which it bid on to claw its way up the PPC charts in the period running up to Mother’s Day. On the holiday itself, Waitrose’s bids completely dropped, allowing Marks and Spencer to take its rightful place as owner of the term.

If Marks and Spencer had gotten this intelligence in time, it would have received early warning that Waitrose Direct was infringing on its brand terms, giving it the right to take action against the premium supermarket and completely strip Waitrose of its share.

[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flowers_Ad_copy.png” title=”Flower ad copy, Adthena” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Flowers_Ad_copy.png”][/lightbox]
Flower ad copy, Adthena

Taking a look at the ad copy, it appears that Waitrose Direct’s strategy is clear: It is trying to sell the fact that its flowers are cheaper than Marks and Spencer’s and that it offers free Mother’s Day delivery. It’s making its pricing central so they can attract customers who may not have considered buying from a vendor that isn’t as well-known for flowers.

Marks and Spencer, however, is targeting its ad copy at the last-minute buyers who want next-day delivery. Unlike Waitrose Direct’s copy, it doesn’t specify whether the company offers delivery on Mother’s Day, but it’s likely that anyone wanting to buy flowers on the day itself would simply pick them up on the way to their mother’s anyway.

Did this Brand Infringement Harm Marks and Spencer?

Although brand infringement isn’t illegal, it can lose companies millions of clicks and revenue every year. Brands can take steps to prevent other companies from hijacking valuable searches, though.

Adthena’s competitive intelligence for search can help you stop companies from stealing your brand terms. This is a strategy that would otherwise be difficult to uncover, as ad copy doesn’t always mention these keywords.

But our service can generate automated brand infringement reports to give you complete peace of mind, making sure that you’re the only one using your brand to leverage market position.

(Main image credit: Brooke Raymond/flickr)

About the author

Lorna Gill
Lorna Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies and is passionate about translating technical information into stories that excite and delight.