Retail Business Analysis: Wal-Mart Marketing Tactics
Why does a business need a marketing strategy? The basic answer is simple: to generate sales. However, the manner in which a business goes about developing its marketing strategy can differ significantly from one business to another. In order to understand what type of marketing strategy works best for a certain company, one must first understand the basics of each specific strategy along with viewing examples of how these types of strategies have worked for companies in the real world. In order to view how the major marketing strategies are at work in a real-world scenario, one can look at the company Wal-Mart to see how both the generic marketing strategy and the segmentation strategies have been implemented in order to garner more sales, and in viewing this implementation, one can assess room for improvement in terms of marketing the retailer’s product line.
Marketing Strategies within Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart operates with the use of two of the three main generic marketing strategies, both of which have proven successful. These generic strategies in marketing outline the three main strategic paths for a company to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage, including: “cost leadership (low production costs), differentiation (providing for an underserved customer need), and focus (market size and scope)” (Haley, 1995, p. 62). First, Wal-Mart stands out in utilizing cost leadership, or maintaining its place as low cost leader amongst competitors. Wal-Mart is able to manufacture or import its products at prices significantly lower than competing retailers, and the company is then able to sell these products at low costs in order to generate a profit. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business (2002) notes that since Wal-Mart’s onset as a company, its marketing strategy was to “guarantee everyday low prices as a way to pull in customers, while traditional discount retailers relied only on advertised ‘sales'” (p. 2). This strategy has remained much the same as time has gone on, and Wal-Mart has never wavered in its dedication to keep prices below those of other retailers.
Next, Wal-Mart has succeeded in operating in its focus strategy of choosing to compete in a broad scope in the mass market. Whereas some companies choose to “compete in a more narrow targeted or niche market,” Wal-Mart has become highly successful in expanding its product line and customer-focus to a much larger scale (Mattson, 1997, p. 449). Wal-Mart further utilizes segmentation strategies or those that “design a marketing program to appeal to a specific existing segment,” but on a far lesser scale (Dickson and Ginter, 1997, p. 6). While certain marketing campaigns may target a specific group of customers for a specific product from time to time, Wal-Mart generally operates on a more universal plane, viewing its customers as a whole body rather than targeting to specific shopping groups.
Wal-Mart utilizes several different marketing strategies in order to push its product line, but it has been able to maintain success and control over each of the strategies implemented. In being so successful, Wal-Mart has the advantage of being able to keep its generic marketing strategies in action while using segmentation strategies when needed in different areas of product marketing. In looking at Wal-Mart and its use of marketing strategies as a whole, one thing is certain — this company certainly knows how to market its products correctly.
Senior VP of Wal-Mart Marketing, Paul Higham (2008) notes, “At Wal-Mart new marketing may not rank high in terms of dollars spent, but in its most basic form, it has proven to be priceless. (p. 2). While new strategies may be used in the future, Wal-Mart needs no major improvements in how its marketing is done. As seen in viewing some of the company’s tactics in terms of strategies for sales in its market, one can see that Wal-Mart has chosen to hone in on several generic and segmentation strategies to both cater to the mass market and hone in on certain demographics within the population of Wal-Mart shoppers.
To conclude, nothing sums up Wal-Mart’s success story in terms of marketing than its core strategy of keeping prices low every day. This strategy has proved undoubtedly successful in bringing in a steady client-base and unparalleled yearly revenue. In the end, Wal-Mart can be viewed as a model of success in terms of marketing strategy.
Dickson, P. And Ginter, J. (1997). Market segmentation, product differentiation, and marketing strategy. Journal of Marketing. 51, 1-10. Retrieved from: ProQuest database.
Haley, R. (1995) Benefit segmentation: A decision-oriented research tool. Marketing Management. 4:1, 59-62. Retrieved from: ProQuest database.
Higham, P. (2008). Simple marketing hits the mark: Wal-Mart. Discount Store News. 2-
6. Retrieved from: ProQuest database.
Mattson, L. (1997). Relationship marketing and the markets-as-networks approach: A
comparative analysis of two evolving streams of research. Journal of Marketing Management. 13:5, 447-461. Retrieved from: ProQuest database.
Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth: William F. Achtmeyer Center for Global
Leadership. (2002). Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Retrieved from: http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/pdf/2002-2-0013.pdf.
Retail Business Analysis, Wal-Mart
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