Product Design Process - M&S


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In this report, overall definition of product design process is discussed through analyzing the design process, which Marks and Spencer clothing business unit is employing. I have also thrown light on Performance Objectives of Mark and Spencer which encompass quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and cost within the product design process.

The report demonstrates how in highly unstable and neck to neck competitive business environment of the fashion industry, how rapid access to market and cost reduction approach is essential to survive. The report outlines that how M&S line up their design process by means of implementing a cost engineering strategy for alleviating waste level and render improvement in their recycling process. Furthermore, this report illustrates that how retailer maintain close relationships with their suppliers and so builds a strong supply chain in order to reduce their manufacturing and material costs and to shorten their access time to market.

Furthermore, this report demonstrates how M&S meet up the needs of individual target customer groups by offering them order-winning and qualifying factors that are unique for each of their clothing brands. Therefore, the report outlines the criteria which M&S considers for identifying their customer segments and their needs regarding the following clothing ranges: “Classic”, Autograph” and “Per una”.

In the end, it illustrates how each of these clothing ranges are in compliant of aforementioned performance objectives. Any deviation in the performance objectives with those of clothing ranges are explained in the report by means of a polar diagram. The diagram states that the Classic range is of low price but provides higher levels of dependability (read it accessibility) in all their outlets. Autograph and Per una are the products of quality, speed, and dependability. In order to meet the performance objectives, M&S has relocated their operations in countries where there is cheap labor available and thus low input jobs. This aids the company manufacture their clothes at lower cost. Moreover, owing to Globalization, the retailer expanded its operations globally to substantiate their profits and thus value-add their customers by the benefits of dependability and speed owing to Mark and Spencer’s abrupt production delivery across countries.


1. The Design Stage Process .......................................................................................................... 3

2. Research techniques ......................................................................................................................3

3. Performance Objectives ...............................................................................................................4

4. Quality function deployment ......................................................................................................5

5. Value-Cost Engineering ...............................................................................................................5

6. Consumer Segmentation...............................................................................................................5

  1. The Design Process

A good design not only conform to customers’ needs but also communicate the purpose of the product to its market, hence help company reap financial reward out of its products. Marks and Spencer is a company which manufacture their own product at their own manufacturing plant in order to ensure their product quality and durability.

Marks and Spencer needs to know about:-

CONCEPT; the value of its clothing ranges

PACKAGE; products which provide the benefits defined in the concept

PROCESS; way products will be manufactured

The design stage process is a process which involves following main components:-

  • Transformed resources
  • Technical information
  • Market research
  • Time management
  • Transforming resources:
  • Testing
  • Facilities
  • Staffing

Why Marks and Spencer needed Design Stage process?

Because while manufacturing their products they need to ensure quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and low cost in order to give their customers a product they want. The transformed resources at Marks and Spencer have undergone vast change because of unstable fashion industry. In order to manufacture competitive products at Marks and Spencer, they need to meet up their performance objectives hence manufacture their products in cognizance of them.

  1. Research Techniques

Primary Research techniques like Customer Feedback are what, Marks and Spencer hold great significance about. In M&S, customers are being provided with enormous number of opportunities to leave feedback about their shopping experience. This mean of primary research is of great benefit for M&S because in this way, they get aware of how customer think about M&S because customers can give anonymous feedback online and may be more inclined to say how their experience really was.

The output of product design process can be measured by:






During Credit Crunch, occurred at 2010, Marks & Spencer introduced a major market-research program to find out how incline in tax and downfall in capital expenditure will effectuate their customers. This fact is a proponent of their sensitivity towards external factors which may affect their sales.

  1. Performance Objectives

Due to the industry Marks and Spencer are in, they need to care about what is important to their customers. They need to be aware of what their customers need in each range and what they want from their products. Marks and Spencer Customer Service report states Sustainability hold weightage to our customers but they have other priorities too. They want us to make it easier for them to buy more sustainable products and live more sustainably.

Performance Objectives

Key Performance Indicators

Other Qualifiers

Old Winners


On time delivery/production

Deliver products to store/ direct to customers on time

Deliver product before expected date


Customer satisfaction

Provide high quality goods to customers

Introduction of better products for customers


Cost comparison

Competitive industry cost

Value for money

Dependability/ Reliability

Reliability of product/service

Ability to meet orders

Fulfil all orders without failure


Design change

To produce and sell to customer demand (color)

Produce a wide range of products

  1. Quality Function Deployment

Quality Function Deployment holds great significance to Marks and Spencer because in this way they would get to know about their customer’s needs. QFD while looking at customer requirements and implements these requirements into the product design. This is important to Marks and Spencer because they not only need to know what the customer’s needs are but also what customers want. This links with section two order winners and qualifiers because they need to constantly thinking about what they can do to their products to make them desirable.

  1. Value-Cost Engineering

“The purpose of value engineering is to try and mitigate costs, and prevent any unnecessary costs, before producing the product or service.” Marks and Spencer need to get the quality of the products without the standards slipping. This is important because they need to ensure the material which they use is cheaper but still high quality and think of all the design aspects to the product. When Marks and Spencer consider reducing their costs they must not take away what the customer wants otherwise their products will not sell. This is important with the Classic range because they need to produce products which are for older women and so they need to be easy access and simple designs. This is good for Marks and Spencer because they can keep costs low due to the basic design meaning they can spend more time and money on ensuring quality.

Cost Engineering and Concurrent Engineering strategies

Cost reduction process is crucial to organizations because lowering cost leads to a manifold increase in gross profit. Although companies consider production costs prior to launching a new product, costs become even more important when organizations get involved in price-based competitions. The cost engineering is a cost reduction strategy which aims on brushing off unnecessary costs without changing quality and liability of the design For instance, M&S has recently started spearheading a new project which aims to reduce waste by means of using the recycled unwanted garment to produce new clothes. This strategy not only leads to cost reduction but also increased operation efficiency. Moreover, M&S is constantly forging good relations with their suppliers and are strengthening their supply chain. The company is searching for cheaper material to make new clothes. M&S also manufactures clothes in countries where labor cost is low. M&S also chooses strategically located suppliers so that they could faster distribute products from manufacturing plants to stores to shorten Time to Market and save on shipping costs. M&S constantly invests in new technologies which leads to the increased production efficiency and helps the company achieve the aforementioned SPEED objective. It is important to use strategies for product innovation in order to reduce Time to Market. Due to frequently changing fashion trends, it is crucial to reduce Time to Market and so the clothing retailers must be able to react to the changing market needs rapidly, effectively and responsibly. Therefore, the concurrent engineering strategy offers rapid solutions to product design and development process. This type of strategy aims to achieve the optimization and distribution of a firm's resources in the design and development process to ensure effective and efficient product development process.

  1. Costumer Segmentation

It refers to classification of groups of individuals based on the chosen criteria relevant to an organization’s marketing activities and so encompass characteristics like customer age, gender, interests, spending and purchase habits. Therefore, in order to sustain intensive competition in the market, organizations ought to conduct a massive market research to capture shifts in their customer needs and preferences. Moreover, companies must attend to socio-cultural changes by developing new products and improving existing products that will satisfy newly emerged customer requirements. M&S’s three most popular clothing lines Classic, Autograph and Per una are uniquely positioned to adapt to the key operational marketing factors, such as customer segments and their individual needs, quality, design and price, as well as order-winning and qualifying factors.

Each of above clothing lines shares several unique characteristics, such as price, quality and design, which satisfy individual needs of different M&S’s customer segments. Such customer segmentation allows M&S to market their clothes to the specific target audience and thus deploy their marketing tactics more effectively. The Classic clothing line is aimed at core M&S customers who are both women and men, aged between 35 and 55. The Classic collection’s design is defined through simple and basic clothing, such as sweaters, jeans, white shirts and plains. This clothing line delivers convenience to their customers as the clothes are machine washable, non-iron and tumble-dry friendly. Therefore, such the clothes reflect the target customer’s busy lifestyle. Moreover, this clothing range caters to those who look for decent quality and affordable price and therefore appreciate good value for money. The design for this clothing range is timeless and that means that design does not need to be constantly reinvented. Autograph is a seasonal clothing range which brings about spring and summer collections for men and women. It offers formal wear and elegant clothing for upper middle class customers that value luxury upmarket goods and are willing to pay a premium price. This clothing line represents the work of M&S’s best designers and therefore the clothes are offered at high street prices and are available on selected boutique stores. The purpose of the Autograph clothing line is to bring a cutting-edge design to a wider audience. This clothing range also reflects unique and dynamic seasonal trends and therefore requires adapting to constantly changing socio-cultural environment. Per una is Mark and Spencer’s most expensive clothing range if compared with Classic and Autograph clothing lines. Per una clothing line aims to design clothes based on the latest fashion trends and then position the clothes as premium and exclusive. Per una offers the highest quality clothing material and very limited editions. This clothing range captures the target audience of wealthy fashion-conscious women, aged between 25 and 35. The target customer prefers unique and trendy clothes that reflect their high social status and help them stand out from the crowd. A firm’s competitive advantage is determined by distinguishing two competitive order-winning and qualifying factors. Order winning factors are those characteristics which directly and significantly contribute to winning business. They are considered by customers as major reasons for getting the products or service: ‘raising performance in an order winning factor will either result in more business or improve the chances of gaining more businesses. The qualifiers can be defined as condition of competitiveness where the operation’s performance has to be above a specific level to be considered by the customer. For instance, M&S’s Classic range is known for its high reliability and functionality as the clothes does not wear off after multiple washes. This feature is the clothing line’s order winning factor. Moreover, its qualifying factor is high quality at a reasonable price. M&S’s Autograph range’s order-winning factors are high quality and clothing based on seasonal trends.

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