Friday, September 21, 2007

WOW! Walmart in Marketing News!

Everyone has an opinion about Walmart. Rob Frankel says “"To shop at Wal-Mart is almost the same as admitting you are poor," he says."As soon as people can figure out a way not to shop at Wal-Mart, they do." Not a big fan. He had about as much to say regarding WalMart’s first marketing move since inking a deal with The Martin Agency in January of this year. For the first time in 19 years WalMart is changing it’s tagline. From the all-too-well-known “Always Low Prices” to “Save Money. Live Better”. Apparently the move is based on not-so new research from Global Insight that suggests that WalMart saves American families and average of $2,500 every year. (Sound familiar? yeah, we've been hearing that for a couple years now) The new tagline was accompanied by a website that shows up at the end of the new TV spots encouraging consumers to post their own story of savings as a WalMart shopper. The company also planted a “Savings Ticker” outside its headquarters to track how much money the retailer is saving American families.

This move follows a major addition to the company’s online store last month or so that allowed consumers to post feedback about products on the site. The company also launched a portfolio of financial service products that are quite obviously targeted to low-income shoppers. Is the company moving away from trying to look more upscale? The new tagline, in reality, isn’t much different than the previous one. During the 19 year lifespan of the previous tagline (which should have disappeared about 6 or 7 years ago, at least, to have more impact) WalMart stock split and hovered above $60. Now the company can’t get out of the low $40’s land with an ever-rotting image across the country. Will the new tagline help? Thoughts It is a price based tagline – that’s bad – Well, it also adds an element of lifestyle – and for that a user based (or democratized) defined lifestyle. So the consumer defines the lifestyle of a Walmart consumer and can get engaged through multiple online elements. That’s good. Is it dissonant with other WalMart communications? In conjunction with the new financial services, consumer feedback on the website and other rumblings from Arkansas – it seems relatively cohesive. That’s good. Unfortunately, it also looks like WalMart is struggling to really take advantage of the smarts of The Martin Agency. Save Money. Live Better isn’t a bad metamorphosis of Always Low Prices but I think the shackles of the low price marketing need to be removed. Move away from cheap and into value. Cheap is bad like Mattel and China – value is Costco or Targets “masstige” (prestige for the masses) apparel. Welcome to the era of value brands WalMart. Consumers expect more.

PS – The website – yeah, pretty low-budget looking. Let me know if you need some help- I have a buddy that that does websites and can add stuff to make it a little more viral like, oh, I don’t know, tagging. Yeah. More

PPS - Walmart announced a dramatically changed health care plan for its employees that received praise from even longstanding critics. Read it.

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