Once upon a time, Next was best known for its reasonably priced children’s clothing and its Boxing Day sales, remaining mostly unremarkable 364 days of the year. But the company has managed to make itself useful in lockdown. Its website has become something of a one-stop shop, appealing specifically to the time-poor demographic of people with young families, helping it to become the UK’s biggest internet clothing retailer.
Over the past 18 months, Next has increased its stable of brands beyond its own label, the acquisition of 25% of Reiss being the most recent addition. Next.co.uk features the children’s clothing the brand is known for, plus pretty printed blouses and an easy take on the athleisure that most consumers have been wearing since the first lockdown started in March 2020, but there are also other brands. These are all carefully adjacent to the aesthetic of Next’s own label. They include Boden, Nike, Ralph Lauren, White Stuff, UGG and Victoria’s Secret for clothes; and for beauty, Elemis, Estee Lauder and The Ordinary. Gifts, flowers and homeware – including a range by Laura Ashley – are also included. This means several items on a to-do list can be ticked off at once. Price points are affordable – even the items in the premium brand section are under £400.
The celebrities on the site are primetime, family-friendly and wholesome: Nadiya Hussain, Myleene Klass, Emma Willis. Next is friendly, it’s attainable, and based on a slightly polished version of life that a lot of consumers recognise. But fans of the brand will probably say that has always been the case. In a sense, it’s the shift to become the virtual equivalent of the high street found in most towns in the UK that’s been the gamechanger. Next is now both comforting and useful, a win-win when appealing to consumers in a pandemic. No wonder Marks & Spencer has begun to notice. Next’s high street rival has begun to sell other brands too.