Walmart’s CMO talks time, money and message

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Aug 01, 2016
Carol Spieckerman

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Spieckerman Retail blog.

Walmart’s “Save money. Live better” slogan has served as a multi-purpose mantra for the company, but delivering on the “save money” part is becoming more difficult as shoppers compare prices online and as free shipping and free returns for online purchases become table stakes. According to Walmart’s chief marketing officer, Tony Rogers, money is always top-of-mind for Walmart shoppers.

That doesn’t mean that its “live better” premise gets a pass, though. At a recent presentation, Mr. Rogers pointed out that time has caught up with money in terms of importance and the two are, in many ways, inextricably linked. Shoppers want to save money, but not at the expense of their time. According to Mr. Rogers, online grocery shopping and the ability to have items brought out to shoppers’ cars at a nearby Walmart store has time-starved customers saying, “You’ve brought me back.” Walmart currently offers this service in 50 markets, with plans to roll it out further along with its much-publicized mobile wallet service, Walmart Pay.

Convenient options like the ability to shop online and pick up in a store parking lot has proved “life-changing” for ”busy families,” the largest consumer group Walmart targets and the hardest to cater to.

The segment mainly includes large, multi-cultural, middle-income families with Millennial and Gen X parents who have college or post-graduate degrees. For busy families, saving money is a priority, but at the same time life is a juggling act and time is precious.

Retailers have been experiencing a bit of a convenience conundrum as different customers define convenience in different ways. Further a single customer will look for convenience in different ways depending on the usage occasion, time of day, category being shopped, and countless other variables. Walmart is making bold moves to close any gaps by addressing convenience on multiple fronts and leveraging its considerable physical scale in order to make it happen.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should convenience become a larger part of Walmart’s marketing message? In what ways do you see savings and convenience becoming linked as drivers of the shopping experience?

Braintrust
"I'm happy to see more signs that the race to the bottom is coming to an end."
"What is convenience? As the article points out, consumers define it differently."
"Price is certainly on consumers' minds, but how they combine price with convenience and experience has changed."

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16 Comments on "Walmart’s CMO talks time, money and message"

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Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust
I’m happy to see more signs that the race to the bottom is coming to an end. Walmart’s challenge in proving itself convenient is the sheer size of its stores. If customers can order ahead and just pick up in the parking lot it may well improve its sales, or at least keep up with others. No one can compete on price alone forever, and what used to be convenient (one-stop shopping) is now not so convenient at all. Too big, too much. Still, I think this is a good move on their part. Consider Publix. Half their commercials focus… Read more »
Shep Hyken
BrainTrust
Walmart competes in the low-price space. The price can only go so low. Some of their customers are loyal to price and not to Walmart. When the customer finds a lower price, they move on. The next level to compete on is customer service. Yet with most low-priced retailers, service is friendly but not always at a high level. The obvious space to move into is convenience. This will be their competitive weapon. Nine out of 10 people in the U.S. live within 10 miles of a Walmart. Plus they have an online presence. If they are to win, they… Read more »
Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Convenience is important, but saving money should remain the larger part of Walmart’s message. The company is not set up, physically with its huge stores or practically with its low wage and seemingly short-staffed personnel, to take on the mantra of saving time. Walmart should continue its efforts to save time while sticking to its low-price message.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Time is money. Just how much time am I willing to spend — and on what products — to find the lowest price? Today’s time- and price-strapped consumer is likely to research their high-end products and other products will be placed into categories.

Staples can easily be set up to buy on a recurring basis online, but everyday household products? Good price and convenience together will determine the destination.

In my humble opinion and for my 2 cents.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

There’s reality, and there’s perception. Amazon has created the perception of “free” shipping after subscribers pay good money for Amazon Prime. If I were running Walmart I’d propose borrowing a page from the Costco handbook and adding a gourmet section to the grocery side of the store … that would do more to attract new customers than anything.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

What is convenience? As the article pointed out, consumers define it differently. In addition, it may be defined differently for a stock-up shopping trip and a trip to replenish some necessities. Walmart is showing that a retailer can no longer be successful by doing one thing really well. Rather retailers need to do logistics well, offer the right assortment of goods, make it possible for consumers to shop in-store or with any mobile device, offer an atmosphere to make shopping enjoyable and offer alternatives for delivery. Retail just continues to become more challenging.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Cathy brings up a killer point. Do something to attract new customers. It probably is not going to be gourmet foods. That doesn’t seem to fit the profile of a Walmart shopper. Time also does not seem to be a major factor in my mind. Saving money and attracting new customers would be more in tune with the Walmart shopper.

I have another thought. Maybe a smile on the face of any employee you encounter would help.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Since the Great Recession, consumers have become more frugal and more demanding about how they assign value to their retail purchases. Price is certainly on their mind, but how they combine price with convenience and experience has changed. Moreover, the segment that Walmart is targeting, “busy families,” is sufficiently varied that the equation is not fixed. That requires Walmart to go beyond a single message of price. So “live better” is a good umbrella within which the company can bring in the many ways consumers can find convenience. Appropriate use of technology is enhancing the shopping experience by redefining convenience… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

What’s more convenient than shopping online?

I ask that because I don’t think we can use 20th century notions of convenience to entice 21st century shoppers.

I think there is a real opportunity here for Walmart, but I think they need to find ways to redefine and own the whole notion of convenience.

Think about it. What’s more convenient than Amazon’s “Dash” buttons? Maybe the whole idea of convenience needs to be expanded past a primarily product-centric view of retailing.

Savings and convenience are always important, but they are different for every generation of consumers — a point that retailers generally overlook.

Brian Kelly
Guest
1 year 4 months ago
Ah the teetering balance of life: time and money. Alas, price no longer is as compelling as it once was for all the reasons well-known and discussed. So how to alter the selling model to sharpen relevance for families in an era of austerity? Can Walmart deliver against “live better”? So many big box retailers have tread that space. Define “better.” In terms of dollar stores or Target? Convenience (like “fun”) is a relative idea. It all depends upon the shopper’s mindset and her shopping goal. How to sync the balance of the selling model: product, place, service and promo?… Read more »
Mark Heckman
BrainTrust

Equating convenience with a mega-Supercenter is a tough sell. Walmart will need to get very shopper-centric with its store design, layouts, product adjacencies and technologies to pull off touting Walmart as a time saver.

William Hogben
BrainTrust
As everyone who’s been pressed for money knows, time becomes just as precious. Walmart’s focus on convenience reflects that — time and money are both essential sides of the same savings coin and it will put even more pressure on independents and other retailers. Walmart’s best move here is to add mobile self-scanning to their already good mobile app. They did their first mobile self-scanning tests last year and it’s rumored the next round begins later this year. As a maker of mobile self-scanning technology myself, I am excited for Walmart to popularize it. Putting consumers in charge of the… Read more »
Patricia Vekich Waldron
BrainTrust
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Retail and Marketing Expert; Former IBM Executive
1 year 4 months ago

Kudos to Walmart as they migrate not only their value proposition “Save money. Live better.” into action. Time, convenience and service are *sometimes* more important than money.

Michael Day
BrainTrust
Back in the day, as a member of the Walmart “re-branding” task force helping the company launch “Save Money. Live Better” (and make the transition from the long time and explicit “Everyday Low Price” go-to-market message), it is particularly interesting from here to watch the continuing evolution of Sam Walton’s vision. One of the objectives when Walmart launched “Save Money. Live Better” — before the Great Recession — was to augment eroding price leadership with a “higher-quality” shopping experience (cleaner less cluttered stores) and a more life-style focused aspirational brand message. This in-turn would position the company better to combat… Read more »
Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Throughout my career, discounting has always been seen as a difficult (if not impossible) long term strategy because it’s easy for competitors to undercut your position. In fact, Walmart’s “discount” strategy has always had some assumptions … low price among its competitors, low price along with all this in one store. Still, in the long run, I think it’s wise for Walmart to look for value-added strategic strengths. Is it convenience? If we’re talking the convenience of all those products in one place at good prices, then I agree. The problem with the home delivery convenience idea is that it… Read more »
Arie Shpanya
Guest

Yes, convenience could become a larger part of their message, given that their largest target group is busy families. But convenience comes in different forms to different people even within that segment. Retailers (not just Walmart) would benefit from digging deeper into the pain points of this segment to come up with new ways to enhance the shopping experience for them.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I'm happy to see more signs that the race to the bottom is coming to an end."
"What is convenience? As the article points out, consumers define it differently."
"Price is certainly on consumers' minds, but how they combine price with convenience and experience has changed."

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