Walmart recently decided that it couldn’t allow dollar stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar to erode the giant retailer’s low-price positioning. While Walmart was focussing on competing with Target, these dollar stores were building up share with low income consumers. So Walmart is reasserting its “Everyday Low Price” mantra and pushing suppliers for even lower price points in every product category.
My take: This is a great example of “Compelling Brand Values” which is one of the four customer experience core competencies. As an introduction to this competency, I like to share this “edited” quote from Howard Shultz:
Great companies not only stand for something, but they operate in a manner in which their employees consistently deliver on their brand promises. At a high level, this requires three things:
- A clear definition of your brand and its promises
- A shared understanding of your brand across your employees
- An operating model that supports and reinforces the fulfilling of your brand promises
As this Walmart case demonstrates, it’s very easy to lose sight of your brand. While Walmart would never be mistaken as a high-priced retailer, its focus on competing with Target allowed it to stray away from its goal of being the low-price leader.
A small drift in your brand can cause myriads of inconsistent decisions within your company and create opportunities for competitors to takeover your previously controlled market position.
That’s why every company should reassess its brand every 18-24 months. This effort should assess the following questions:
- What does the executive team think the brand currently stands for?
- What does the executive team think the brand should stand for?
- What do employees think the brand stands for?
- To what degree have employees embraced the brand?
- What do customers think the brand stands for?
- To what degree does the brand resonate with customers?
The bottom line: Never take your brand for granted