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N Brown Group: CRM Brand(s) Analysis

Welcome to episode 34 of PostFunnel’s Seven CRM Commandments series, where we get to N Brown Group plc.

Most people may not know this company by name, but it’s safe to assume most UK customers have come across the group’s brands – JD WILLIAMS, HOME ESSENTIALS, simply be, Ambrose Wilson, and others.

And before we start going through the CRM tactics here and giving grades, we just wanted to note that this analysis is different from the first 33. Instead of choosing one of the group’s brands, we mixed things a little and randomly chose a different brand for each category. You’ll see.

So, how will the group’s brands score on each of the commandments below? Let’s find out.

1. Be Transparent 10/10

N Brown Group deserves a perfect score here for a number of reasons as with this retailer – everything is out in the open for customers. For starters, N Group’s HP slide banner displays their first-half results as well as their 2020 annual report.

In addition, and as previously reported on PF – N Brown Group announced that it had secured shareholders’ support in its bid to raise £100m to strengthen its balance sheet and accelerate profitable growth.

“Having restructured the business and transitioned to more than 90% of revenues from digital, we now see a clear opportunity to capitalise on various industry drivers, not least the increasing trend towards online retail, and further improve our customer proposition,” said Steve Johnson, CEO at N Brown Group.

“While we are mindful of the ongoing uncertainty of the UK retail environment, we are confident we can continue to build on the unique strength of the group’s brands and remain focused on creating a sustainable business delivering profitable growth over the long term.”

We’ve analyzed dozens of brands so far. Such openness is rare.

2. Incentives and Perks 10/10

Here, we checked out a few of the group’s brands to see whether they provide customers with incentives and perks for shopping (and re-shopping) with them. And the many brands do indeed offer promotions.

Ambrose Wilson:


It’s clear that the group’s brands know how to play the D2C game – especially when it comes to discounts and offers. They get a perfect 10 here also thanks to the wide range of offers. Again, one might think it’s trivial, but after looking into so many online stores in recent months – we actually know it’s not too common. And what we saw here is exceptional in terms of “having something for everyone” – the newcomer, the bargain hunter, the social-distancing customer, and more – on the discounts aspect.

3. Be Relevant 10/10

Regardless of this challenging past year, the group’s brands are out on a mission to support Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).

One of N Group’s main brands, Jacamo, is best known for selling plus-sized clothing, focusing on larger sized clothing for men, a segment usually much less attended to than others.

While the group’s intimate wear brand, Figleaves, caters to customers with larger bust sizes – with marketing language that represents women of various backgrounds, religions, and races.

So, although D&I is a subject that should be top of mind for every brand – the brands under N Group’s name have already incorporated this into their underlying values for years.

“We believe in FASHION WITHOUT BOUNDARIES and fabulous clothes for every age in a range of sizes,” N Group communicates to customers on their website.

Furthermore, for the sake of this commandment – we checked whether Jacamo had altered their product offering or service to help customers shop in a more convenient, fast, and safe way as the coronavirus continues to affect us all. Or, at least, help with the online holiday shopping spree.

And here, once again, the brand is checking the boxes with an extended returns offer:

As recently reported on PF – the post-holiday shopping season could be even more hectic than the shipageddon – with tons of customers planning on making a return after XMAS. So, obviously, it is excellent to see Jacamo acknowledging it.

Also, very relevant to these WFH, comfy clothing times – the brand has created an entire Loungewear section for customers to shop quickly and easily.

4. Be Helpful 8/10

Sustainability is among the group’s central values. N Group writes on its website:

“We strive to make as little environmental impact on THE PLANET

as possible, and we are always considering how better to enrich both our customer and employee experience.”

They also have an entire strategy webpage on sustainable growth that reads:


Over the last two financial years, the group has undertaken a significant restructuring programme, which has created the right platform for sustainable growth. We are now in an “accelerate” phase driven by five growth pillars which have been developed to reflect the focus of the business and the external environment.”

Still, we couldn’t find a recent way the fashion retailer has been giving back to society and those in need during this past challenging year. Other brands (check the rankings below) have supported charities and causes by providing monetary donations to show empathy towards emotional and sensitive issues.

5. Realtime Personalization 3/10

For this commandment – we chose to analyses the brand, Ambrose Wilson.

When adding children’s sneakers to our shopping cart, we presented with item suggestions – but they were totally off… weird!

Then when adding a toy accessory kit, the same thing happened:

Therefore, though the brand has cross-sell and up-sell marketing techniques in place on their site – they were totally off – really leaving the personalization factor out!

When exiting all sites that we took into account during this analysis – no realtime retargeting efforts were made by the brand whatsoever on our social media accounts. (FB and IG)

6. Master UX 9/10

For the sake of this commandment, we rated the user experience of Home Essential’s website.

Everything from presenting us with the most relevant products to these times (new home gym workout equipment and cozy home blankets) and the entire look and feel of the brand’s site was both neat and memorable.

When shopping, customers can also narrow search results for a more direct experience – whereby you can choose the color, area of the home, price range, review rating, brand, and more.

When adding and removing items from our cart – and heading over to check out – the process was easy and even fun! Our experience with this brand was great – overall. It gets a 9/10 (and not a perfect score) because the very Amazonesque experience lacked a bit of originality.

7. Leverage Social Media 7/10

Here, we rated the brand Simply Be.

Their Instagram account has over 200k followers. On this platform, they post in high frequency – more than a couple of times a day – content that promotes their attire – and provides promo codes, inspiration, and videos to help strengthen customer relationships.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Simply Be (@simplybeuk)

Their Twitter account has over 94k followers.

On this platform, the brand last Tweeted in October 2020 – not great. Also, their pinned Tweet is a message apologizing to customers for longer customer service response times. From April. If the issue still persists, then, yeah, it’s a long time to wait for response…

Their Facebook account has over 440K likes. On this platform, they also post in high frequency – the same kind of content they post on Instagram.

They lose points also because they were no evident attempt to match the kind of content to the platform.


Overall, Nando’s is getting a 57/70 here (81%), placing them in 7th place in a tie with West Elm and The North Face.

Though this is quite a high score and ranking on our list, N Group still has to ask themselves, “What does personalization mean?”, in order to really give their customers the personal touch and experience they deserve.

There are many tools out there that can help with your personalization efforts – we can expect this new influx of capital into the company’s coffers to drive them in that direction, among others.

For example, Optimove data showed that customers who landed on a personalized homepage version stayed on the site 22% longer than users who didn’t.

Here are the full rankings of all the brands we analyzed to date:

  1. Pets at Home 91%
  2. Lowe’s 90%
  3. Petco 90%
  4. Target 87%
  5. Uniqlo 86%
  6. Vrbo 83%
  7. N Brown Group 81%
  8. West Elm 81%
  9. The North Face 81%
  10. Holland and Barret 80%
  11. lululemon 80%
  12. Brooks Running 79%
  13. Best Buy 78%
  14. Nando’s 75%
  15. Etsy 76%
  16. The Body Shop 74%
  17. Gymshark 73%
  18. William Hill 73%
  19. Essence 72%
  20. Iceland Foods 71%
  21. Total Wine & More 70%
  22. Tommy Hilfiger 70%
  23. Walgreens 70%
  24. Kohl’s 70%
  25. United Colors of Benetton 69%
  26. Buy Buy Baby 68%
  27. Fiverr 67%
  28. Next 63%
  29. Patagonia 61%
  30. Express 60%
  31. Burberry 60%
  32. Zara 59%
  33. COS 57%
  34. Dream11 53%

We publish a new analysis every week, so watch this space for more brand analyses coming your way!

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