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Primark’s 21-Century Strategy Shift

Equally loved and hated, for over 50-years Primark have been making waves in the retail space. From ‘taking inspiration’ from high-end brands, contributing to micro-trend culture, to unthinkable supply-chain working conditions, everyone has heard of them and formed an opinion. 


But from a marketing perspective, they are an intriguing anomaly. 

Traditional Marketing Forever

What makes Primark interesting is their approach to marketing. Throughout their existence, they have fully relied on word-of-mouth and traditional marketing strategies. Even as one of the last major organisations to adopt a digital marketing strategy, they have remained eye-wateringly successful. 

Other major organisations that failed to adopt a digital strategy effectively, well, the majority don’t exist anymore – for example, House of Fraser. But, one thing that has made Primark successful from the very beginning is how they create a sense of scarcity; customers don’t know what products they will find in-store and have to purchase them there and then as they won’t be there on their next visit. This combined with cheap prices, accessibility and trend culture, ignites a recipe for success.

A Shifting Dynamic

But, the same strategy can only last so long. With the rise of quick, constant and digestible content (and TikTok largely to blame), scarcity is no longer a concern, particularly when users are digitally sharing what they purchased in-store. The anticipation of ‘what will you find in Primark’ has vanished. 

The dynamic has shifted to customers going to Primark to find specific items that have been showcased by other internet users and being disappointed when their local store doesn’t have it. Customers are using online videos as a stock directory and being disappointed in the discrepancies between stock in different stores that, before, they didn’t know existed. 

A 21st Century Response

In response to this widespread customer discovery and disappointment, Primark have finally created a website and gone digital — not for shopping purposes, but to regain consumer trust. The retailer has taken full ownership of this customer discovery and offered a very transparent response. 

On their new website, customers can check the availability of specific products at different store locations near them. This is a very smart move from Primark as it allows them to gather data on popular products and what is being searched for in specific locations which will, in return, create a more accurate supply to what’s being demanded. 

Not only this, but they have managed to retain their blue-ocean strategy and continue to be one of the only retailers that doesn’t rely on online sales to be successful — just the data.