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

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

3 thoughts on “Even Walmart Needs To Reassert Its Brand”

  1. 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. 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.

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