Can Walmart turn its haters into lovers?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.
When we surveyed more than 4,000 shoppers, asking them to rank their favorite brands out of 100 retailers, no other company elicited the kind of polarizing responses that Walmart did. About half loved Walmart; the other half didn’t.
When asked what retailer “gets me,” Amazon.com was chosen as the top brand by 81 percent of respondents, up from 79 percent the year before. By comparison, only 56 percent chose Walmart as a retailer that “gets me,” although, notably, that was up from 53 percent the year before.
Digging deeper, we found people who love Walmart, really do love Walmart. That loyalty is built around one theme: price. The bad news is that the people who don’t like Walmart, really don’t like Walmart. They had one consistent and unifying gripe: customer service. Their reputation with some consumers for treatment of workers may also be an issue.
So how can Walmart turn its haters into fans?
Our research indicates there might be some underlying demographic explanations as the household income of Prime users ($150,000) is well above the average Walmart shopper’s ($56,482.) However, we don’t believe it is the determining factor since Amazon is admired across income levels, genders and ages.
On the conceptual front, Walmart just introduced Town Centers, an idea that centers on transforming its big boxes into areas with green space, outdoor seating, strategic partners and city-like amenities that could potentially be a draw for the current Walmart haters. Walmart’s recent acquisitions also indicate the retail giant is looking to expand its customer base, or, at the very least, learn from smart brands like Bonobos and Eloquii.
Moves to increased wages and the introduction of a five-year, $100 million Retail Opportunity Initiative to support educational opportunities and career advancement shows Walmart recognizes it needs to make improvements on the customer service front.
In the end, more research might unearth what’s really going on here. Is this divide within Walmart’s customer base reconcilable? Only one thing is certain: competing with Amazon will not allow settling for a 50-50 split between lovers and haters.
- A Customer Divided: The Love/Hate Relationship with Walmart – WayfinD
- Total revenue of Walmart worldwide from 2012 to 2018 (in billion U.S. dollars) – Statista
- How Amazon’s Bottomless Appetite Became Corporate America’s Nightmare – Bloomberg
- This is what the average Walmart shopper looks like – Business Insider
- Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers – RetailWire
- Walmart grants $4M to support workforce education – Retail Dive
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think explains the polarized nature of Walmart’s supporters and detractors? Is Walmart taking the right steps to bring its perception into better balance with Amazon’s?