A month after reassuring investors that it would return to its basic "Everyday low prices" positioning, Walmart is making good on its promise. The new marketing campaign, which includes humorous national TV spots, tailored local marketing and an aggressive "Match it" policy, is designed to win back the shoppers it has lost in recent months.
It's also putting some 8,500 items back on store shelves -- an 11% increase -- in an acknowledgment that its "Project Impact," an effort to de-clutter stores and increase efficiency by reducing SKUs, was a snafu almost on the order of "New Coke." It will even offer a mea culpa to shoppers by flagging the restored items with "It's back!" signage.
Back in February, its most recent quarterly results, Walmart posted a comparable-store sales decline of 1.8% in its U.S. stores, which it chalked up to fewer people coming in to shop. (Per-basket expenditures actually gained a bit in the quarter.) At that time, the retailer also said it would shore up its "Every day low prices" positioning, broaden assortment, continue with its remodeling program and boost its multichannel efforts. The company revealed more details on that plan in a meeting with investors last month.
"Walmart's reputation was founded on the principle of providing low prices day-in and day-out on the broadest assortment of merchandise," Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S., says in the company's release. "Our company is determined to create the best one-stop shopping experience and low prices on the right products backed by a clear, consistent ad match policy."
In order to make sure its prices are low, the Bentonville, Ark.-based chain says its managers are checking the competition more, and says that it is working more closely with suppliers to lower the cost per item and pass those savings on to customers.
It claims its new "ad match" policy is the best out there. If customers find a lower advertised price, even if they don't bring in the ad, Walmart says it will match it at the register -- and that it is training its associates to make sure that policy is executed in all its stores.
The national TV spots, which are quirky and fun, explain the "Match It" policy and highlight the chain's expanded assortment.
But it remains to be seen whether consumers will be convinced. A recent report from Kantar Retail found that while Walmart and Target continue to closely contend on price, "Target's basket price came in less expensive."