I find it interesting that Walmart has finally begun to attempt (through much marketing and PR expense) to elevate their brand beyond their platform of being the king of low prices. Yes, everyone has always known that Walmart had (or at least claimed to have) the lowest prices in town. But the word also got around through the media as to how they had achieved those low, low prices. Their reputation of beating up their suppliers to the lowest possible price was reported in publications such a Fast Company. And their reputation of poor service and even worse treatment of their employees has been publicized again and again, such as in this Bloomberg Business Week blog post. So many seemed to love to hate Walmart.
So that is likely why, after decades of a single minded focus on low prices, Walmart is finally looking to polish up their image. They started in 2007 with a new ad campaign and tag line change from “Always low prices.” to “Save Money. Live Better.” The campaign was much more feel-good than previous campaigns seeking to illustrate how saving money enriches people’s lives.
You may have even noticed that they changed their logo. Did you notice that the little starburst logo is the same icon that your products are scanned over in the checkout line? A very subtle nod towards their low price mantra. The fresher color palette and more contemporary font were likely chosen after much research and many focus groups to determine which would seem the most friendly to customers.
And in 2008 they evolved even further. Could it be true? Had Walmart actually figured out that people matter (beyond their buying power?). The corporate giant is hard at work to soften their image by joining in the fight to lower healthcare costs, using their weight to help push behind environmental movements towards sustainability and joining in the green movement with inclusion of more green products on their shelves.
It’s funny, though. Still, I will hear people say, “I went to Walmart….I hate it there, but they were the only place that carried XXXX,” as if they needed to excuse themselves for shopping there.
So with millions spent in advertising and PR and trying to create a more “likeable” image. Is it possible that we may someday actually LIKE Walmart?
Well, according to a Consumer Reports study in 2010, they still have a long way to go in terms of creating a brand that people actually favor.
I’ll be curious to see how it all unfolds over the next few years.
by Tracy Marlowe