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The ‘Next’ Big Thing

One High Street PLC that has announced its trading figures for the latter part of 2006 is Next. An overall increase, period on period, of 2.8% is attributed to strong sales through Next Directory and www.next.co.uk.

I was therefore interested but not surprised to learn that, according to Hitwise, words related to the Next brand accounted for almost one fifth (19.55 per cent) of all Internet searches in the UK in December for the Lifestyle-Fashion industry. When you consider that the closest competing brand was River Island with just 3.42 per cent, that’s a terrific lead.

So how has the clothing giant managed to influence Internet users so dramatically?

A very simple name obviously helps. The single word ‘next’ accounts for over 14 per cent of the search terms in the category. It’s much easier to type ‘next’ than ‘debenhams’, so when you are browsing on spec it is likely to be a key choice.

Having a range of routes to market also helps. Next Directory is the seventh most used term. The directory delivers a captive audience that grows with the Next brand and builds the company profile. And brand building offline and on has to be the biggest factor in Next’s huge popularity.

It’s a stark warning to all those businesses that think clever PPC and SEO can deliver the market share and a suggestion once again that the nations High Street brands could be taking precedence online in 2007.

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