Zappos and Meijer among retailers touting their corporate values

Photo: Zappos/Beautify Earth
Sep 20, 2016

At a time when social media has made the corporate principles of brands more public, Zappos and Meijer have both introduced unique initiatives to promote their core values.

In a partnership with the non-profit, Beautify Earth, Zappos sourced local artists across ten cities to interpret the 10 core values of Zappos in murals across the country:

  1. Deliver Wow Through Service (Miami)
  2. Embrace and Drive Change (Baltimore)
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness (Austin)
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded (Los Angeles)
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning (San Francisco)
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication (Boston)
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit (Philadelphia)
  8. Do More With Less (Chicago)
  9. Be Passionate and Determined (New York)
  10. Be Humble (San Diego)

A mural in Las Vegas, the retailer’s hometown, created by the local Zappos team, embodies all the values.

In a statement, Zappos said the multi-city mural project builds on Downtown Project, a $350 million revitalization effort of downtown Las Vegas that is being partly funded by CEO Tony Hsieh. The company said in the statement, “Zappos said it believes bringing beauty to communities is a crucial element in creating a culture that values the arts, and ultimately a more beautiful world.”

Taking a different approach, Meijer earlier this month opened a “Heritage Center” at its Michigan headquarters. Chronicling the retailer’s 82-year-old history, the 5,000-square-foot museum “is designed to inform and inspire team members and visitors” through 12 exhibition areas, including: a theater; a selection of personal letters to the Meijer family from team members, suppliers and customers; 30 team member video interviews; and an array of artifacts that tell the Meijer story since its start amid the Great Depression.

Co-Chairman Doug Meijer said in statement, “At Meijer, we have a deep reverence for our history and culture, and are pleased to share this with the community that truly led to the company’s success.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should retailers do more to promote their core values and culture? Do you prefer the approach of Zappos or Meijer? Is there a better way to get the message out on corporate values?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"If a statement of corporate values is intended to speak to consumers, then Zappos has the edge in this one."
"These are two unique and forward-thinking retailers. Both approaches have a common element. They each produce a physical presence."
"Zappos is in a class by itself when it comes to infusing culture through its employees to its clients!"

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14 Comments on "Zappos and Meijer among retailers touting their corporate values"

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Bob Amster

Up until very recently, most large businesses (not all) have been accused of having no values except selfish, avaricious values. It is a different age. More large businesses will embrace desirable and acceptable values and will be making their values known in order to gain public opinion advantage. Eventually, publicizing corporate values will become ho-hum and we won’t be talking about it so much.

Steve Montgomery

The short answer is yes. Younger consumers make some, but not all, of their purchasing decisions based on their perceptions of the brand. Incorporating core values and culture in a brand’s marketing exposes them to new customers and reinforces them to existing customers.

However, before marketing their corporate culture companies should make sure that values they are touting are truly incorporated into their corporate DNA. If not consumers will quickly see this approach as just another marketing effort.

Tom Redd

Meijer did it right. Why? Their Heritage Center is great for the internal side — especially for new-hires — Millennials and Generation Xers — so they get an idea of what hard work, not cell phones and couches, can produce. And it lets them know that they are now a part of the club or family.

The Center also strengthens the loyalty factor with customers. They can visit the Center or watch videos about it and Fred and the original Meijer gang that started the store chain that is growing fast at a controlled yet innovative speed.

Old-fashioned values and culture beats the new “we are hip and love” approach. None of that stuff has the beef to stick — it is trendy before it relates to values.

Macy’s also does a great job with the heritage model.

Max Goldberg

If a company does not have a core story that it lives every day, it has little reason for being. Core values are not something that merely hang on a wall, expressed as a mission statement. They must be lived and breathed from top management down and should be known by all employees, vendors and consumers.

Dick Seesel

If a statement of corporate values is intended to speak to consumers (not just internal constituencies like employees and vendors), then Zappos has the edge in this one. I see a parallel to Target’s longstanding commitment to charitable giving in its communities, the “Kohl’s Cares” program and so forth. None of these would be as effective tools for doing good — and pitching the company culture — if they were isolated to each company’s headquarters city.

David Livingston
6 years 7 days ago

If a company has good core values they do not have to build murals, museums and monuments of themselves. That’s for tourists and enthusiasts. The Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee or the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta are marvelous and should inspire employees, consumers and enthusiasts. Then I see the KFC and McDonald’s museums. Interesting but I bet 99 percent of the people don’t even know where they are located. The best way to get the message out is with the actions of the company and employees rather than a destination that requires a pilgrimage to visit.

Adrian Weidmann

Shoppers using the spectrum of digital channels throughout their shopping journey expect an immersive rich media (video and audio) experience. Brands have a wonderful opportunity to share their brand story through these channels. Those stories that if they resonate emotionally with their audience will be shared, should highlight the brand’s culture, its values and how those values are experienced by their customers. It’s all about the shoppers and if they believe your story! Shoppers are smart and they’ll know when you’re pandering and artificial.

Dan Raftery

These are two unique and forward-thinking retailers. Both approaches have a common element. They each produce a physical presence. In a society increasingly drawn to the virtual world, these seem like investments that should have some long-term return, especially the Meijer museum. The big differences are the multi-market exposure and local involvement of the Zappos murals program. Hopefully graffiti “artists” will not feel left out and will refrain from adding their contribution.

Mel Kleiman

Both are great and it is not a matter of which is better, the point is that they both have corporate values and not only share them but live them.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
6 years 7 days ago

Zappos is in a class by itself when it comes to infusing culture through its employees to its clients!

Brian Kelly
6 years 7 days ago

First things first. Make sure the core values are clearly understood and securely embedded IN the culture BEFORE going to the shopper. It can not be an aspirational effort to turn around a business. When they are in the org from top to bottom, then and only then, pivot to the shopper. Obviously time is mission critical.

Create a relevant and positively differentiating business promise that is essential to success with the shopper in the category. And extend the core behavioral values that deliver the promise into the culture. Make business success totally dependent upon the delivery of core values by associates.

Then create a communication plan including points of engagement and appropriate media. This is the easy part. The part that matters is making sure the org delivers.

To over promise and under deliver proves dysfunction, she will walk and that is brand death.

Proof? Name the last 3 retailers to go out of business and the most notorious 3 currently teetering.

So of course, “retail ain’t for sissies!”

Ken Morris
Ken Morris
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
6 years 7 days ago
For Millennials, the buying decision process is more emotion-based than other demographic segments. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Brand Keys, the purchase decision process is 80% emotion-based and 20% rational-based. Developing an emotional connection with a brand also is a strong driver of brand loyalty. Many retailers are embracing corporate philosophies that appeal to Millennials’ social values and emotions — social responsibility, philanthropy and sustainability. However, retailers’ actions should be authentic and not merely be a self-serving marketing tactic to drive more sales. Both the Zappos’ murals (like billboard advertising) and the Meijer Heritage Center (museum) have merit. Which one is better depends on the objectives of the company and the perceptions of their customers. As far as total impressions, the murals will have a bigger impact on awareness, but the museum will have a richer, emotional influence on consumers’ perception of the brand and potentially a stronger brand connection. The biggest down-side of the museum is that it is limited to those consumers that take the time to actually visit the… Read more »
Peter Charness

Branding is branding in either case, the goal of which is to create some positive connection to the company when the consumer thinks of it, and therefore create a predisposition to loyalty and spending. Yes it works, and retailers should promote their values where they help stimulate that connection, particularly retailers who sell less differentiated products.

Interestingly not one of the Zappos statements relate to “giving back to our communities.” Having been to Grand Rapids, I have a positive recall of Meijers’s longstanding support of their local communities. If I lived near one of their stores I’d shop there first.

Shep Hyken

Brands shouldn’t just promote their core values and culture. They should live them. Zappos and Meijer do just that. Zappos makes it clear you are hired if you fit into all ten of the core values, and you won’t be hired — or will eventually be fired — if you don’t. That clarity is what drives their culture.

Part of a brand’s success in achieving the culture is to communicate the values and what drives the culture. Be it murals, training, signage, swag and more — it is used to emphasize and remind employees of the culture they are a part of.

"If a statement of corporate values is intended to speak to consumers, then Zappos has the edge in this one."
"These are two unique and forward-thinking retailers. Both approaches have a common element. They each produce a physical presence."
"Zappos is in a class by itself when it comes to infusing culture through its employees to its clients!"

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