The idea of surviving the next 50 years is a scary task for many companies. The inevitability of change and technological advancements are difficult for some brands to withstand and overcome, however I don’t see surviving as the problem for a powerhouse company like Wal-Mart. Instead, the challenge is thriving in a competitive era where consumers’ opinions and experiences are on display for anyone to see.
As a college student I am extremely fond of the low prices that Wal-Mart offers its customers. The recent commotion surrounding the Black Friday deals further proves that people of all ages make Wal-Mart a primary destination for a majority of their shopping, whether that is for groceries, school supplies, or Christmas presents. In order to keep their customers coming back, Wal-Mart must continue to offer lower prices than their competitors and ensure they advertise those low prices well.
Since technology is continually changing, I think it’s important that advertising and promotions change as well. Wal-Mart currently has active social media pages, but I think they could be used even more. By tweeting, posting, and sharing their daily or weekly specials, they can pump out free advertising that they can also measure through social media analytics. Pictures and links to purchase products online could increase profits and tell customers who don’t read their Sunday paper what the specials are.
It’s also important for Wal-Mart to focus on the company’s mission and values across all levels of the business. The publicity they receive regarding mistreated employees and long checkout lines could decrease or be eliminated if they return to leaders who can re-focus the brand on Sam Walton’s original purpose: to help customers save money. The quality of employees is also important to customer happiness, so perhaps they could provide better quality training or even employ more people. The increase in social media involvement is a positive when discussing advertisements, but it’s also the easiest outlet for angry customers. Bad news travels much faster than good news, so Wal-Mart could also promote more of the charity work they are doing to create some good press to balance out the bad.
Target is arguably Wal-Mart’s greatest competitor, and I think most people choose Target for the quality of their product. By providing some higher end lines of clothing, shoes, and home décor I think Wal-Mart could compete with stores like Target, especially if they could offer reduced prices. It’s important to change the negative perceptions that surround Wal-Mart, and a way to do that would be to demonstrate the quality and style of their products in television or print advertisements. By showing consumers what is available to them, they will hopefully have better “top of the mind awareness” and be more likely to purchase those items from Wal-Mart. Some of these changes seem complicated and expensive, but I think it would be worth the investment for Wal-Mart.