By George Anderson
Wal-Mart’s got an image problem and it has nothing to do with how it treats its employees or labor unions.
This particular image problem is the one where consumers can shop for their everyday goods at the retailer but, if they want something to wear (not counting socks or underwear), then the place to go is anywhere but Wal-Mart.
Lee Scott and company have made a point of telling the world that, if consumers will only take a look, they’ll find that there’s plenty for them in Wal-Mart’s clothing departments.
The latest case in point is the chain’s new Metro 7 “urban” line of clothes for women.
The company’s chief marketing officer, John Fleming, said the new line came about after the retailer conducted interviews with 6,000 Wal-Mart shoppers who explained why they buy their clothes at other outlets.
“We found that she has an urban sensibility, she’s very fashionable, very style conscious, and we didn’t have the apparel that met her needs,” he said.
The Metro 7 line was been rolled out in 500 stores this week and the company expects it to be in 1,000 stores by next spring. The line includes silk camisoles, tunics, T-shirts, embellished jeans and velvet skirts and jackets priced from $9.99 to $29.99.
NPD Group’s Marshall Cohen told USA Today, “Wal-Mart has finally learned that they are not going to get new people to come (for fashion), but they can convert the ones that are already shopping.”
“You can’t buy a fashion reputation by carrying one label,” he added. “If you just take the merchandise and took the tags out, you’d say it’s not bad disposable clothing. It’s close enough. But the minute you put it in that environment, you’ve already branded it in such a way that you have to climb up a steep hill.”
Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Wal-Mart’s strategic and tactical approach to apparel?
John Fleming said Wal-Mart was “redeploying dollars” to its marketing budget to increase the visibility and cachet (our word not his) of the retailer’s
George, Faded Glory, White Stag and No Boundaries apparel brands. –
George Anderson – Moderator