Walmart is a well-known brand across the United States in the world. They are known for their low prices for a variety of products including food, toys, clothing, auto, home and garden. They are one of the top brands in the nation. With this amount of recognition – everyone knows what Walmart is – one would think that advertising might not be necessary. However, consumers’ tastes are constantly changing in 21st century America across many business spectrums. In retail, people are still looking for affordable prices, but they also want a nice, even upscale feeling while getting these affordable prices.
Walmart is aware of that as it is shown in their new store construction and in the remodeling of their existing locations. Their advertising department has also caught onto this consumer trend, but unfortunately does not always excel in accomplishing positive results, in my opinion.
They have definitely made strides in their latest television ads:
These ads usually feature one “guide” showing a Walmart customer some of Walmart’s low prices. The execution is quite well. The obviously typically feature the company’s nicer stores in the 30-second ad. The roles of the Walmart customer are seemingly middle class families – Walmart’s obvious target demographic. While I believe they are effective in showing their competitive price points, they could do a little to highlight some of the nicer features of the stores. Also, one critique I have always had is that they tend to stay within a racial box. What do I mean by this? Well, every commercial of this style that I’ve seen has had the guide and customer be of the same race; Caucasian guide, Caucasian customer; African American guide, African America customer. I don’t guess it is a huge deal; it’s just something that has always rubbed me the wrong way.
As far as print ads go, I do believe the Walmart branding needs to be modified. To wet the taste buds of an ever-increasing population that desires quality on a budget, Walmart’s print ads need to be given a fresh coat of paint – literally.
The color blue that I have seen recently screams “DISCOUNT STORE” to me. And that is perfectly fine for the Walmart of 10 years ago but times have changed. Take fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle for example. Their claim to fame is quality ingredients at an affordable price. Their stores are typically much nicer than fast-food establishments, and often more trendy and modern looking than casual chains with similar target demographics such as Chili’s or Applebee’s. With this approach, Chipotle is making ground on both fast-food and casual chains. People are getting an “upscale” feel, quality products and affordable prices.
I would say that Walmart should position itself, at least domestically, like Chipotle. And in many ways they are (i.e. the new look their stores are getting as mentioned before), but their print ads need to catch up. Take a recent sales ad that was put out:
I understand that Walmart’s primary colors have almost always been yellow and blue. I remember as a young kid going into the local Walmart and gazing up at the blue storefront, and getting a sticker from the door greeter that was a yellow smiley face. Blue and yellow are just in their blood. The company has begun getting away from it with the façades of their stores now becoming beige. While I don’t think Walmart’s advertising department should totally get rid of the blue and gold, they definitely need to richen them by altering their shade to a more modern, cool, relaxed and clean feel.
All in all, Walmart is doing a great job advertising and it is showing. Even in the midst of a sluggish world economy, Walmart is still the chain to beat. That takes good business strategy, good management, good products and services, affordable prices, but it also includes a great advertising strategy.