Even Walmart Needs To Reassert Its Brand

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:

  1. A clear definition of your brand and its promises
  2. A shared understanding of your brand across your employees
  3. 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

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

3 Responses to Even Walmart Needs To Reassert Its Brand

  1. Bret says:

    Bruce, I love your point that companies need to make sure their employees understand what they brand stands for. With the rise of social employees, that is now more important than ever. Not just what employees do on the job, but what they say about the brand off the job, will make or break companies. Bret

  2. patrick buono says:

    Bruce…This was spot on! But not only should the company (Wal-mart) in ur example canvas its employees and customers, I think there is considerble value in collecting insight from those “potential” customers (or segmenst) that are NOT currently buying your products and services and why? That concept of collecting feedback can apply to include “former” employees as well. While former employees are, well former employees, they can sometimes be more honest (hey, I’m not employed here anymore..so whats the risk of being trutthful?). Of course like semantic analytics, its not perfect feedback, but it should expose some trends or patterns. To Brets point about the “social” customer, employee…., he is spot on.
    I think Wal-Mart misses a cross-over customer segment that sits between the cost driven shopper(Dollar General/Family Dollar) vs. the value driven shopper. Flipped another way…I see many of the same products at Best Buy as I do @ Wal-mart…but at 10 to 20% less @ Wal-Mart? Same product @ 15-20% cheaper -> theres a huge argument for the VALUE argument? I think buyer perceptions are uncharted, or under appreicated territory for Wal-Mart.

  3. derkstrategy says:

    “To what degree have employees embraced the brand?”

    THAT is perhaps the most critical question. Buy-in is a must.

    Great read, Bruce.

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