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Tag: Wal-Mart

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#FounderBrands: Microsoft

Monday, August 6, 2012

In its August issue, Vanity Fair charges Microsoft with losing its mojo, pinning much of the blame on CEO Steve Ballmer. While the article makes some useful and valid observations, it never completes the circle, relating them back fully to the larger, underlying issue that ails brand Microsoft: the company has strayed far from the management and proper deployment of its founding vision.

Davis Names Top-25 Companies with Most Brand Capital in 2010

Davis Brand Capital
Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Davis Brand Capital today released the 2010 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking, which evaluates brand beyond its traditional marketing function and considers it as a blend of intangibles creating value in the intellectual economy. The ranking compares the five key intangible categories by which the consultancy defines brand capital: brand value; competitive performance; innovation strength; company culture; and social impact.

Where’s the Etsy for Detroit?

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, December 11, 2008

I’m a big fan of buying directly from artisans.  Though I was raised in a Wal-Mart culture, I’ve found that buying from the people who produce the product is more satisfying.  The brand is comfortably irrelevant, the quality (and yes, even unique defect of the item) is its own, and I feel good that the cash goes directly into the maker’s pocket.

Brand Wal-Mart: Basics Bungled, Leadership Lost

Monday, September 17, 2007

The retail giant's new slogan suggests Wal-Mart is part of a higher standard of living. There's more than one problem with that claim, from internal policies to a lack of marketing vision.

Poison Me Once, Shame on China; Poison Me Twice, Shame on America.

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It appears Baby Einstein isn’t the only company peddling products that may retard our children. On Tuesday, toy maker Mattel announced its second major recall in as many weeks.

Project Green

Friday, April 27, 2007

What’s wrong with the current preoccupation with all things green? I have friends who say the environmental initiatives sprouting like weeds are the consumer and the market taking control – AT LAST! - of issues the White House would rather ignore. A global, cultural surge towards sustainability. Something to applaud and encourage! Maybe. But I don’t believe everything green is worth celebrating this spring.

At Issue } essential reading

How The Walmart Foundation Innovates Corporate Giving For A Bigger Impact

Lydia Dishman
Dec 4, 2012

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation, talks about making an impact both globally and locally, and how any company can be a better corporate citizen.

Business Model Innovation Through Process Change

Brad Power
Aug 20, 2012

In the late 1990s the dot-com boom made every organization look at the potential for online presence and examine its business model. But the pace has been heating up with emerging social (Facebook), mobile (smart phones and iPads), "cloud," and "big data" technologies that are creating new ways to compete, and, along with them, new ways of working.

Payments Network Takes On Google

Robin Sidel
Aug 15, 2012

More than a dozen big merchants are expected to announce Wednesday their plans to jointly develop a mobile-payments network that would battle similar services from Google Inc. and other companies, people involved in the effort said.

The Era of Big Box Retail Dominance Is Coming to an End

David Welch
Mar 30, 2012

When Best Buy Co. (BBY) said yesterday it was closing 50 big stores and opening 100 smaller ones, the world’s largest electronics retailer was adjusting to reality: The era of big-box retail dominance is coming to an end. The new mantra is small box.

The End of Retail

Matthew Yglesias
Jan 18, 2012

In its midcentury heyday, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was the Wal-Mart of its era—the largest retailer in the world with more than 350,000 employees. But it is in an epic freefall. After decades of decline, the Sears ended up in the hands of investment manager Edward Lampert, who purchased the company in 2004 and merged it with Kmart. The new combined entity, known as Sears Holdings Corporation, was consistently losing money even before the recession. The Sears Tower, the company’s iconic skyscraper, no longer houses any Sears’ employees and—the ultimate indignity—had its name changed to the Willis Tower in 2009. On Dec. 27, it announced that in light of poor holiday sales, 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores would have to close. An even bigger blow came last Friday when CIT Group said it would no longer provide loans to Sears vendors.

‘Ford’ of Tech Companies, AOL, Must Keep Innovating, C.E.O. Says

Amy Chozick
Dec 7, 2011

It’s not easy being the Ford Motor of the Internet. And that, in short, is the predicament facing AOL, according to its chief executive, Timothy M. Armstrong, who spoke Tuesday as part of the three-day UBS media conference in New York.

Local Food or Less Meat? Data Tells The Real Story

Andrew Winston
Jun 20, 2011

In recent years, one part of the food business has rivaled organics as the hot growth area: "local" food (defined vaguely as coming from the same state or from less than 100 miles away, for example). It's a market segment that has just about doubled in sales and number of outlets over the last decade. The world's biggest food buyer, Wal-Mart, jumped on the bandwagon last fall and announced that it would double the amount of local food it sells (to 9 percent of all its food sales). The idea of buying locally is not new, and farmers' markets have been big for years. It's become almost gospel that the food on our plates has traveled about 1500 miles to get to us. So it would seem logical that the best way to shrink your food-related carbon footprint associated would be to buy from near by. But it turns out that this assumption is wrong.

More Target Than Tar-zhay?

Ann Zimmerman
Jun 8, 2011

A series of recent stumbles at Target Corp. has some retail experts questioning whether the cheap-chic discounter is losing its cachet.

It's Walmart's Ball, And It's Changing The Game

Thom Forbes
Jan 21, 2011

It's getting hard to not like Walmart, or at least the way it has been throwing around its considerable weight to make the world a better place for the last three years or so. I never thought I'd write that.

The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value

Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer
Jan 12, 2011

The capitalist system is under siege. In recent years business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community. Even worse, the more business has begun to embrace corporate responsibility, the more it has been blamed for society’s failures. The legitimacy of business has fallen to levels not seen in recent history. This diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set policies that undermine competitiveness and sap economic growth. Business is caught in a vicious circle.

When Brand Loyalty Goes Too Far

Michael Schrage
Jan 7, 2011

Microsoft managers probably shouldn't bring iPhones to business meetings. Ford employees shouldn't commute to work in BMWs. Coca-Cola employees likely shouldn't drink Pepsi on their lunch breaks. As a rule, companies with strong brands and competitive cultures expect more than a modicum of brand loyalty from their employees and contractors. But with employment opportunities tight and economic recovery slow, a profound organizational transformation is taking hold. "Loyalty to the brand" is mutating into "Living the brand." Brand values — not just brand value — are seen as core competitive differentiators.

Wal-Mart Tries Again for New York City Store

Dec 13, 2010

The New York City Council was supposed to hold a hearing this Tuesday about a renewed campaign by Wal-Mart to open its stores in the city. But it had to be rescheduled, for January. “We needed a bigger room,” the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said. “We heard from unions all across the city, small business leaders from across the city. It’s a growing list of people.”

Brand Messaging Gets Short and Tweet

Sheila Shayon
Nov 2, 2010

In the Burger King 15-second spot above, there’s no verbal product description, just a quick ditty about “The ultimate breakfast platter. That's what I call delivering." It's a zippy example of how brand marketers are shrinking their messaging, with the 15-second spot fast becoming the standard length for what used to be a 60-second spot and then the 30-second spot.http://www.unboundedition.com/admin/articlelinks/articlelink/19332/

Wal-Mart: Lettuce Think Global, Act Local

Oct 18, 2010

The 800-pound gorilla — or, more precisely, $405-billion behemoth — of global retailing is entering the “locally produced” derby. And locally produced food probably never will be the same. Wal-Mart plans to dramatically increase the locally grown produce it purchases from U.S. farmers over the next five years. And in emerging markets including China and India, the ever-expansive chain plans to sell $1 billion worth of food grown by a million small and medium farmers – and, to boot, train them in using water, pesticides and fertilizer more efficiently.

Your Brand Isn’t Selling? You’re Disconnected.

Ted Mininni
Aug 2, 2010

Product cycles aren’t getting shorter. They’re disappearing. Retailers are concentrating on their store brands and giving shorter shrift to national brands and manufacturer partnerships. They’re culling nationally branded products that fall short of sales and turn expectations from shelves. Sometimes, these metrics aren’t even used as justification!

A Fashion Identity Crisis at Wal-Mart

Jul 29, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot seem to find the right fit when it comes to selling clothing. By quietly ousting its U.S. division apparel chief last week, the world's largest retailer acknowledged that its clothing strategy has been a dud. Again. Over the past decade, Wal-Mart has veered from one approach to clothing to another. The discount giant has even tried to emulate rival Target Corp. by stocking its own lines of trendy outfits. At other times the Bentonville, Ark., retailer has placed its bets on bulk packs of everyday wear, like tube socks and T-shirts. "Wal-Mart has suffered from not knowing who they want to be," said Allen Questrom, the former chief executive of J.C. Penney Co. who recently left Wal-Mart's board. "They're either trying to be too fashionable or too basic."

Adversary's Clean Start With Wal-Mart

Jul 26, 2010

For years, Seventh Generation Inc. co-founder Jeffrey Hollender liked to say "hell would freeze over" before his company's environmentally friendly household products would be sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. He feels differently now. Starting next month, Seventh Generation staples, including laundry detergent, dish soap, all-purpose sprays and disinfectant wipes, will be sold in about 1,500 Wal-Mart stores. By September, other cleaners, diapers and baby wipes will be available on Walmart.com.

Wal-Mart's Green Strategy Raises Serious Issues

Bob Lurie
Jul 1, 2010

Wal-Mart's move to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain in the next five years is impressive. It's also an example of the world's largest retailer exerting a blunt form of regulatory vigilantism.

P&G Scrubs Out Tide Basic

Jun 24, 2010

Last July, branding powerhouse Procter & Gamble tried appealing to budget-conscious consumers with a value-priced version of Tide detergent called Tide Basic. The product was carried by Wal-Mart and Kroger stores, primarily in the south and southwestern parts of the United States. Tide Basic was essentially a test to see if stripping out some of Tide's features and pricing it as much as twenty percent lower than original Tide would make the product more attractive. It was seen as a strategy to compete with the growing popularity of store brands and generics. P&G has announced it has ended the test and will pull Tide Basic from the market. Why?

Wal-Mart Plans To Work With Chicago To Build Dozens Of Stores

Jun 22, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it plans to work with the city of Chicago to build several dozen stores in the area over the next five years as it seeks new avenues for growth in the U.S. The stores will be of varying size and format, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a statement today. They would create about 10,000 store employee jobs and 2,000 unionized construction jobs, Wal-Mart said.

Why Imitation Beats Innovation

Jun 3, 2010

Fascinating research from Oded Shenkar of Ohio State University, published in the HBR. This shows that it pays to be an imitator, not an innovator. According to this study, 98% of the value of a given innovation goes to the company who imitates it, not the one who launches it.

Don’t Confuse The Customer: Limit Choices, Make More Sales

May 26, 2010

Sometimes, too much of a good thing is just too much. There’s an argument to be made concerning over-assortments of consumer products in one category after the other. A recent article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail notes, “In store aisles, less is more, but customers can still be particular” and examined this problem at retail.

CMOs: Market with Heart and Mind

Claire Huang
May 25, 2010

By all official indications, the Great Recession has very likely ended. But as marketers, we know better than to interpret this to mean we can pick up right where we left off prior to the steep economic slide. Many consumers have readjusted their budgets and some continue to cope with concerns about the security of their jobs. Even those who have not been directly touched are still anxious about the future. Things that once mattered to our customers no longer seem so important to them. That's why we have to reconnect with them in a way that reflects their new reality.

Sprint Hopes ‘Cents’ Adds Up To Dollars

May 17, 2010

As much as Madison Avenue looks back to the 1970s and 1980s when trying to evoke nostalgic feelings in consumers, there are still nothing like the trappings of the 1960s to seek to make those emotional connections. That is evident again in a campaign scheduled to get under way on Monday from a new brand under the Sprint Nextel banner, Common Cents.

Wal-Mart tries to Close Gadget Gap with Best Buy

May 13, 2010

Sometime early next week when you walk into the electronics section of your local Wal-Mart, you're likely to notice some changes. More big name brands of TVs, Blu-ray players, smartphones, and other gadgets will begin to populate the store shelves as the retailing giant tries to expand its reach and customer base even further. The new products will include the latest in TV technology, meaning displays with LED backlighting and Internet connections, Web-connected Blu-ray players, and home networking equipment. There's also going to be more emphasis on getting the trendiest smartphones from carriers on the first day they're available elsewhere, and more accessible mobile broadband plans.

Wal-Mart Bets on Reduction in Prices

Apr 9, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cutting prices on thousands of products in an aggressive campaign to reinforce its reputation as a discount leader, as the company seeks to reverse months of slowing U.S. sales. The world's largest retailer was a rare beneficiary of the economic downturn, as large numbers of bargain-hungry Americans, including many middle-class families, flocked to its supercenters from supermarkets and specialty clothing stores.

Aspirin, Q-Tips and a New You

Mar 25, 2010

Makeup is all about promises: glamour, youthfulness, boldness, or escape. The makeup counters of beauty retailers are carefully designed to conjure up visions of transformation for the women who shop there. Now, drugstores are trying to do the same thing. In Duane Reade’s new in-store beauty centers, trained makeup artists in aprons help customers pick between blushes and bronzers, offering advice like “There are no rules in makeup.” The “Look Boutiques” feature walls of brightly lit shelves, $20-plus makeup brushes in Lucite cases, and displays with beauty-counter lighting where customers can linger, get their skin analyzed, or try on lipsticks. A perfume bar allows shoppers to sample scents such as “Frozen Margarita” and “Green Tea” from Demeter, a brand that until recently was sold at Bloomingdale’s.

Wal-Mart Expands MoneyCenters To Satisfy The “Unbanked"

Mar 22, 2010

Wal-Mart is on a roll. Not only did it recently top Interbrand’s “The Most Valuable U.S. Retail Brands 2010” report, but the retail juggernaut is also claiming that every American consumer saves thousands of dollars a year just because there are 3,700 Wal-Mart stores across the country. Regardless of whether you never enter a Wal-Mart and do your discount shopping instead at a Target or somewhere else, Wal-Mart’s case states that shoppers save big bucks just because of the deflationary effects of its pricing on the entire retail economy.

As Marts Rise, Wal-Mart’s US Stores Fall

Mar 22, 2010

As US equity markets recover and consumers regain a bit of their swagger, shoppers are abandoning Wal-Mart's US stores in droves. The discount giant, which posted healthy US same-store sales gains in four of the first six quarters of the Great Recession as millions of cash-strapped shoppers traded down from department stores and other higher-priced chains, was considered to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the economic slowdown. Now shoppers are dropping Wal-Mart like a bad habit. In fact, the Bentonville, Ark.-based chain is likely to post, for the first time in its history, four straight quarters of same-store sales drops. Coincidentally, the S&P 500 Index is up in each of those quarters. It's an odd relationship America has had recently with the low-price titan.

Borders Opens New Chapter With Book Club Gatherings

Mar 17, 2010

In the increasingly brutal book wars, Borders Group Inc. is learning what coffeehouses long have known: Encourage shoppers to think of you as a home away from home and they'll spend more, maybe even become regulars. To spur that feeling, Borders quietly unveiled a program late last month that invites book club groups to convene at its cafe spaces instead of in club members' homes. The step is geared toward helping the money-losing bookstore chain drum up sales and reshape itself into a local gathering place instead of a faceless superstore.

Stuck-in-middle Walmart Starts to Lose Share

Jack Neff
Mar 9, 2010

Recessionary darling Walmart saw the first down sales quarter in its history and a surprisingly weak top-line over the holidays as aggressively expanding dollar stores and hard discounters swiped at its positioning. Additionally, last year it lost modest market share in package-goods sales for the first time since Information Resources Inc. began tracking the data -- while supermarkets, dollar and club stores all gained. In short, Walmart is increasingly finding itself caught in the middle between higher-end retailers and value players and, at least in recent quarters, is losing share to both.

Levi, P&G, Mattel Tackle E-Tailing

Joseph Galante
Mar 5, 2010

Move over, Amazon. Consumer-products makers, squeezed by private-label goods at retailers like Wal-Mart, are hawking their wares directly to buyers online.

Wal-Mart Adds Its Clout to Movie Streaming

Feb 23, 2010

Analysts estimate that fewer than 5 percent of the HDTVs sold in the United States last year can go online to pull in movies and television shows, bypassing traditional cable and satellite TV service. Now, however, the idea of an Internet-ready home entertainment setup has a powerful new backer: Wal-Mart.

Dumped! Brand Names Fight to Stay in Stores

Parija Kavilanz
Feb 16, 2010

Don't be shocked if you can't find your favorite salad dressing or mouthwash on your next trip to Wal-Mart. Large retailers -- including Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), the world's biggest -- are wrestling with having too many types of brand-name products. At the same time, shoppers are buying less and looking for bargains. So unless a particular brand is a top seller in its category, it's getting knocked off the shelf -- and sometimes getting replaced by a cheaper store brand.

Giants Ally on Film in Bid to Promote Family TV

Suzanne Vranica and Ellen Byron
Feb 11, 2010

The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, and Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest consumer-products maker, are jointly creating a made-for-TV movie, in an effort to promote "family-friendly" alternatives to what they say is increasingly risqué TV fare. The two advertising heavyweights have teamed up on the two-hour "Secrets of the Mountain," to be broadcast in April on NBC. The movie, which focuses on a single mother who brings her family to a mountainside cabin, highlights values—such as generosity, honesty and togetherness—that Wal-Mart and P&G executives say are in short supply on television.

Sales Are Not the Main Goal for P&G's New Online Store

Feb 8, 2010

Procter & Gamble is testing a new online venue for selling its products called eStore, a venture designed to deliver lessons in online selling that P&G plans to pass on to other online retail partners. The initiative comes as less than 1 percent of P&G’s $79 billion in global revenue last year came from online sales via sites such as Walmart.com and Amazon.com.

The New Normal: It's About Value And Values

Feb 4, 2010

"A fool and his money are soon parted" is an old expression that has never been more true than it is today. Consumers and investors are not quick to let the moths out of their wallets. With unemployment figures high, every penny counts. So how do marketers make their brands relevant and indispensable?

Nike Launches GreenXchange For Corporate Idea-Sharing

Feb 3, 2010

Sustainability is one area where trade secrets don't make much sense--if you hide your energy-saving initiatives from competitors, you're hurting the planet and preventing your entire industry from reaching green goals. That's why Nike has partnered with nine organizations, including Yahoo, Best Buy, Creative Commons, IDEO, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, nGenera, Outdoor Industry Association, salesforce.com, and 2degrees to form the GreenXchange, a Web-based marketplace that Nike claims will allow "companies [to] collaborate and share intellectual property (IP) which can lead to new sustainability business models and innovation." In other words, it's a giant think tank for corporate sustainability.

Target Changes Strategy, And Possibly Future Of Supermarkets

Jan 22, 2010

Whether you’re opposed to having an enormous Target store in your quaint little town, or love your local Target’s big-box convenience, or perhaps live outside the US and always wanted a Target to call your own -- we’ve got good news for all of you. The red-and-white retailer recently announced a major shift in strategy. For years Target was all about massive expansion, opening more than 100 stores in some years, and an impressive 60 in a challenging 2009. In 2010, however, Target will open fewer than 10 stores. Instead, it will beef up its current stores with, well, beef and other groceries. Target will also begin a push into foreign markets including Canada, Mexico, and South America. But NIMBYs shouldn’t put away their protest signs: the big box brand is looking to test a smaller-store format in several urban areas.

Intel, Microsoft Offer Smart-Sign Technology

Jan 12, 2010

Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are promoting the idea of advanced digital signs in stores that aren't just for shoppers to look at. These look back. The two technology giants said Monday that they will collaborate to help companies create and use new forms of digital signs. By exploiting Intel chips and Microsoft software, the companies hope to bring more interactivity to such devices and help retailers customized marketing offers to consumers.

Marketers: Expect A Return To Core Brand Value--And Values--In 2010

Allen Adamson
Jan 4, 2010

Call it 2010. Call it twenty-ten, or even 2K10. No matter how you refer to the last year of the first decade of the 21st Century, everyone in the marketing is wondering what the past few sobering years will mean for brands and consumer behavior. It doesn't take a seer, or even a branding professional, to declare that consumers will continue to demand value, no matter which direction the economy goes. Consumers have learned--some the hard way--that financial discipline is a must. They will also demand that the values practiced by the companies with which they choose to do business are good and honest and trustworthy. And lest any company thinks it can put one over on anyone, a text, a blog, a YouTube video or a Tweet will quickly prove otherwise.

Retailers Turn to Internet to Spur Late Holiday Business

Miguel Bustillo and Geoffrey Fowler
Dec 26, 2009

As a relatively subdued last-minute rush brought pre-Christmas shopping to a close, retailers were hoping to entice procrastinating consumers to keep on buying through the holiday and after. More retailers planned Internet sales on Christmas Day this year in an attempt to cash in on the growth of e-commerce, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster holiday shopping season. Shoppers and stores have engaged in a tug-of-war this year, as consumers postponed shopping in hopes of deep discounts and retailers tried to preserve their profit margins, offering limited deals designed to drive traffic into stores.

As Stores Sputter, Sales Sizzle Online

Dec 21, 2009

A holiday season of Web price wars and aggressive online promotions by store-based retailers is leaving e-commerce a larger force in American retail. While sales conducted at brick-and mortar stores are about flat this season compared with 2008, online retailing grew 4% from the beginning of November through Dec. 18 to $24.8 billion, according to Web tracking company comScore Inc. Online sales on Dec. 15 totaled $913 million, marking a one-day record for the industry.

Wal-Mart Hopes Going Local Will Curry Favor With City

Dan Mihalopoulos
Dec 20, 2009

Stung by criticism that their megastores shutter mom-and-pop shops, Wal-Mart officials are offering to rent space in the lobby of a new Chicago store to neighborhood businesses. Wal-Mart’s tenants already include a dog groomer at a store in north suburban Zion and an Uncle Remus fried chicken outlet in its only Chicago store, on the West Side.

Wal-Mart Uses Its Stores To Get An Edge Online

Dec 15, 2009

For almost a decade, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been boasting that it will dominate Internet retailing the way it dominates strip malls, toppling Amazon.com Inc. as the world's largest online merchant. And every year, those boasts have proved hollow. But this holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart has started aiming at what it sees as Amazon's Achilles' heel: the costs and delays of shipping online purchases to buyers.

Look Who's Stalking Wal-Mart

Dec 1, 2009

At a Target store, the visual sizzle usually comes from the photos of all the fabulous-looking people wearing fabulous clothes and doing fabulous things. Of late, though, there's an entirely new vibe—supersize signs screaming dirt-cheap prices. Past the cashiers is something else unmistakably novel: a sleek Euro-style mart carrying fresh cuts of sirloin, cheery piles of fruit, and hormone-free dairy. The lowest prices on the planet! Plus a grocery store. Wait. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Wal-Mart?

From CVS To Costco, Retailers Put The Screws To Brands

Nov 30, 2009

Marketers are facing the litmus test of whether their brands truly are indispensable as retailers show a growing willingness to boot even major, well-advertised brands to improve leverage, margins and lower prices. Costco's recent decision to strip Coca-Cola products from its shelves in a pricing dispute is the highest-profile sign yet that the age-old battle between marketer and retailer is escalating, due to the growing power of private label, looming package-goods deflation in the face of falling commodity prices, rising pressure on retailer margins, and softening volumes. Facing those factors and armed with data from loyalty cards, retailers are getting savvier about which brands to keep and which to lose.

US Retailers Turn to Social Media on ‘Black Friday’

Jonathan Birchall
Nov 27, 2009

US retailers were on Friday unleashing a traditional barrage of post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping promotions, with the National Retail Federation expecting 134m Americans to head for the stores. This year, however, the retailers have reinforced their traditional efforts with an array of social-networking weapons including Twitter, the micro-blogging website. Retailers including discounters Target and Walmart, and department store groups Macy’s, Kohl’s and JC Penney have used Facebook pages to publish the “doorbuster” and “early bird” deals traditionally announced in newspaper advertising inserts on Thanksgiving, the day before “Black Friday” – so called because it was once the day on which retailers’ ledgers for the year moved out of the red and into the black.

Retailers Extend Deals Beyond Black Friday

Stephanie Rosenbloom and Claire Cain Miller
Nov 26, 2009

Attention shoppers: It might pay to just sleep in this Black Friday. The conventional wisdom is that the most stupendous bargains of the year are to be had on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But the marketplace has become so packed on that crowded shopping day that some retailers are shifting their strategy. Deals on certain products are likely to be just as good, perhaps even better, in the days and weeks after Friday. In this economy, retailers need to stand out — and some of them are betting they can do so by offering bargains later in the season. Also, while chains are not discounting as deeply as last year, they know the primary way to get penny-pinching consumers to spend is to keep the deals coming all season long.

Cheap and Cheerful for the Holidays

Nov 25, 2009

With only a month left before Christmas, it seems clear that consumers, worried about the economy and unemployment, will need considerable incentives — in the form of big sales and deals — to buy anything. As a result, campaigns are celebrating price cuts, discounts and bargains in a manner that the British call “cheap and cheerful.” It is a far cry from the holidays of not so long ago, when commercials suggested giving luxury cars as gifts by topping them with red bows — and never mentioned the sticker shock.

Price War Brews Between Amazon and Wal-Mart

Brad Stone and Stephanie Rosenbloom
Nov 24, 2009

Now Wal-Mart, the mightiest retail giant in history, may have met its own worthy adversary: Amazon.com. In what is emerging as one of the main story lines of the 2009 post-recession shopping season, the two heavyweight retailers are waging an online price war that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys and electronics.

Stores Line Up Early For Black Friday Throw-Down

Nov 24, 2009

While retailers have been tempting holiday shoppers all month with pre-Black Friday deals, the fiercest of the price-cut showdowns begins this Friday at 5 a.m. Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy, Target, JCPenney and Kohl's are already blaring their best prices online, offering lots of cross-channel options that make it easier for shoppers to choose store, web, or both. (JC Penney, which has vowed this will be its biggest Black Friday sale ever, is even pushing the insomniac envelope, opening stores at 4 a.m.)

Wal-Mart CMO Defends Private-Label Brand Expansion

Nov 23, 2009

Putting a humanitarian spin on his remarks to an ANA audience, Wal-Mart CMO Stephen Quinn defended his company's massive expansion of is private-label brands. Earlier this year, the retail giant sparked a controversy in the food marketing industry when it unveiled a revamped "Great Value" brand line that includes more than 5,000 items in 100 grocery categories. Mr. Quinn said the effort was rooted in the company's desire to help customers who couldn't otherwise afford adequate food for their families.

Businesses Move Forward With Purpose

Nov 19, 2009

Two powerful forces are combining to push businesses to catch up with Peter Drucker's ideas about them serving a higher purpose--just in time for his 100th birthday (which would have been today). Drucker was a strong proponent of businesses going beyond maximizing quarterly profits for shareholder benefit. Why? In his words (from this HBR tribute): "Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”

Define Your Brand's Purpose, Not Just Its Promise

Allen Adamson
Nov 11, 2009

Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it's not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose. This point and its implications were made clear to me at the recent Association of National Advertisers conference in Phoenix where CMOs from some of the smartest organizations explained why purpose-driven branding is essential to success in this "new normal" environment. While it may sound a bit like Philosophy 101, a company whose employees can answer the question, "Why are we here?" will be the company that makes stronger connections with consumers in search of solutions to life's new normal issues.

Retailers: “You’ll See Fewer Products On Our Shelves.”

Nov 3, 2009

A recently published Media Post Marketing Daily piece, “Some Categories May Be Vulnerable at Retail,” points to some serious fall-out at retail after many months of sales declines. The gist: retailers are intent on cutting inventory levels. That doesn’t only mean there will be less back stock in stores. It also means there will be considerable SKU cuts made to reduce costs, optimize assortments and improve profit margins. According to the Wall Street Journal, the nation’s largest retailers will be cutting their overall product assortment by 15% in 2010. Wal-Mart is committed to an overall reduction of 15-18% in their assortments. That’s significant. In fact, it’s a total reversal of the trend in the past few years to grow assortments. It’s a safe bet, mid-sized and smaller retailers will follow suit. The losers here will be CPG companies.

Size As a Competitive Advantage

Oct 29, 2009

Establishing competitive advantage is one of the basic tenets of business strategy. Companies must establish a way of standing out from competitive offerings and being perceived as different and better from those offerings. One business aspect that I believe is underutilized as a lever for competitive advantage is business size and scale. Often a large business size is equated with large distribution and that is considered a competitive advantage. However in many cases that kind of advantage is not sustainable or it doesn’t reflect true customer preference. It’s a forced advantage.

You Can Pry Coke, Tide and Kraft From Consumers' Cold, Dead Hands

Oct 28, 2009

Fascinating, counterintuitive data coming out of a year-long consumer behavior study finds that Kraft, Coca-Cola and Tide are the three brands least likely to be traded for store brands. The study should worry name brand owners, since "only 37% of consumers say name brands are more reliable, and 39% believe name brands are better quality products." The data are edifying. Age breakdowns show consumers growing less brand loyal (and more price-conscious) as they get older. The huge numbers who are turning to private labels find Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Target to be the stores with the best selections.

Tale of the Tape: Retailers Take Receipts to Great Lengths

Sep 2, 2009

Debra Shigley recently went to a CVS pharmacy in Atlanta and paid $25.39 for two prescriptions, a beverage and a roll of toilet paper. The cashier then handed her a receipt that was almost two feet long. "As long as my arm," said Ms. Shigley, a 30-year-old author who consults with women on careers and fashion. Many shoppers have noticed with chagrin store receipts getting longer and longer as retailers tack coupons, return policies, loyalty points and other bits of information and advertising onto narrow pieces of paper that are supposed to be a record of what you bought and how much you paid.

Probing the Amazon-Zappos Deal

Jul 25, 2009

Amazon this week acquired Zappos for $847 million in cash and stock. Since Zappos founder Tony Hsieh asked and answered some of his own questions about the deal in a letter to employees, I thought it'd be useful to engage in a Q&A with myself about the deal.

H&M Blasts Past Nike; Wal-Mart Wallops Tesco

Jul 6, 2009

H&M, Esprit and Adidas are apparel brands that are coming on strong, while Nike, Zara, Gap and Puma are weakening. And although Wal-Mart is still tops, Amazon -- a brand that does little conventional advertising -- is blistering past its retail competitors, according to the latest brand evaluation from Millward Brown Optimor, a division of WPP.

Best Buy Challenges Walmart on Employee Smarts

Jun 18, 2009

Best Buy is picking up market share, thanks in part to the demise of rival Circuit City. But the electronics giant also has a formidable competitor in Walmart, which has been revamping its electronics departments and stocking more-sophisticated products. Now Best Buy is battling back with a spot that calls out Walmart by name.

Wal-Mart Steps Up Its Game in Electronics Aisle

May 18, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is revamping the electronics departments in its more than 3,500 U.S. stores this week, ramping up an aggressive battle with Best Buy Co. and Amazon.com to seize customers up for grabs due to the demise of Circuit City Stores Inc. Wal-Mart's roomier and more interactive electronics displays begin arriving in stores Monday, showcasing the latest mobile phones and portable computers, and including standalone sections for popular brands such as Nintendo Co. and Apple Inc.

Why Retailing Will Never Be The Same Again

May 15, 2009

We're all acutely aware that the Internet and the recession are ravaging the newspaper business and raising the possibility of its extinction. But meanwhile a much bigger industry, the $4 trillion U.S. retailing business, is also being radically reshaped by the Web and the economic downturn. It's happening far more subtly, but the ultimate impact will be just as profound, both for retailers and for the manufacturers that sell through them.

Target Believes a Rebound Recipe Is in Grocery Aisle

May 13, 2009

Target Corp., under pressure from an activist shareholder, is using fresh foods and other recession-proof groceries as the cornerstone of a plan to quiet criticism and reverse a slide in sales. The Minneapolis-based retailer, best known for its fashionable merchandise and jazzy marketing savvy, is pinning its rebound hopes on a distinctly unchic notion: transforming a corner of its discount department stores into a grocery store.

Simon Says Walmart U.S. wants Tighter Inventory, Cleaner Stores

Apr 2, 2009

Bill Simon, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., delivered the following points to analysts and investors Wednesday: Walmart has 21 minutes to get a customer's attention, from the time a shopper walks into a Supercenter to shopping aisles and checking out; Customers will find fewer types of products on Walmart shelves, as the company reduces inventory and changes store layouts to implement its "fast, friendly, clean" message.

Once a Seldom-Heard Word, Pregnancy Is Now in the Spotlight

Apr 2, 2009

In the 1950s, network censors forbade Lucille Ball — whose real-life pregnancy was being incorporated into the plot of “I Love Lucy” — from using the word “pregnant,” so she said she was “expecting” instead. Today, though, the topic so permeates prime time that First Response, the leading home pregnancy test, is getting something unheard-of a few years ago: product placement.

How Walmart Owns the Concept of Value Online

Mar 30, 2009

There aren't too many places where Walmart isn't dominant. The digital realm is one of the relative few, but not for long, as it ramps up a host of programs to vault the chain -- which has already distanced itself from value retailers in the offline world -- further ahead in the online one.

Retail's Ecosystem

Mar 25, 2009

The store, as a medium, represents a complex environment - an ecosystem, if you will, laced with competition, cooperation and evolution. And like many ecosystems, the store is evolving rapidly.

A Wal-Mart Brand for the Ages

Mar 25, 2009

So, do you fancy yourself as an expert on branding? You should have no problem with the following question, then. What's the biggest fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brand in America?

Wal-Mart Boosts Private Label to Court Thriftier Consumers

Mar 17, 2009

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding its private-label line of food and household cleaners to take advantage of recession-pinched consumers' increasing desire to buy cheaper store brands rather than more expensive brand-name products.

Best Buy Confronts Newer Nemesis

Mar 15, 2009

Finally victorious over longtime archrival Circuit City Stores Inc., Best Buy Co. is now gearing up to fight an even more powerful foe: Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart Looks to Hispanic Market

Mar 15, 2009

Wal-Mart plans to open its first Hispanic-focused supermarkets this summer in Arizona and Texas as the largest US retailer continues its drive to expand its dominance of the US grocery business. The pilot stores, named Supermercado de Walmart, will open in Phoenix and Houston in remodelled 39,000 sq ft locations occupied previously by two of Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market stores.

Google, Microsoft, IBM...and Now Wal-Mart: Which Will Build Killer App for Digital Medical Records?

Mar 12, 2009

Wal-Mart announced that it's joining the digital medical records race. With Obama designating $19 billion of the stimulus package to digitizing this leap, it's no wonder the most powerful retailer in the world has decided to join the ranks of the most powerful tech companies--including Google, Microsoft and IBM--to solve this behemoth challenge, as well as try to cash in.

Interbrand Names Wal-Mart Top Retail Brand

Jan 14, 2009

Low prices trumped panache as big-box stores crowded out department stores in Interbrand Design Forum's first ever survey of the top 50 retail brands.

Retail Marketer Of The Year: Wal-Mart

Jan 2, 2009

It seems like just yesterday that Wal-Mart Stores was the black sheep from Bentonville. Discriminating shoppers shunned it in favor of chic products from Target, its design-savvy rival, while marketing gurus mocked its relentless commitment to low prices.

Wal-Mart CEO Sees Changes in Consumers

Dec 15, 2008

Wal-Mart's chief executive said on Sunday he sees changes in the habits of the chain's customers as they contend with the recession, and also said Wal-Mart had offered to help the incoming Obama administration with health care and environmental issues.

Wal-Mart And Coke Make Music Together

Dec 10, 2008

We were pleasantly surprised by a new holiday commercial from Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola. The ad, currently playing in movie theaters and online, features a young, geeky guy wandering through his own holiday party with a reusable Wal-Mart tote bag, handing out bottles of Coke while singing a little ditty about his guests.

Lawsuit: Marketing Blamed in Wal-Mart Trampling Death

Dec 4, 2008

Security should have been better, but advertising also helped kill a temporary worker at Wal-Mart, according to a lawsuit filed by the estate and relatives of the 34-year-old man trampled by a pre-dawn Black Friday crowd at a Valley Stream, N.Y., store.

Wal-Mart Aggressively Courts Mommy Bloggers

Nov 24, 2008

Eleven Moms Weigh in on P&G, Coke, Campbell Brands

Wal-Mart Names Duke as Next Chief Executive

Nov 21, 2008

The world's largest retailer unexpectedly announced today its chief executive will retire in February and be replaced by the head of its international division, Mike Duke.

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