Walmart Slashes Membership Fee, Debuts Holiday Marketing

Walmart is heading into the holiday stretch with an ultra-intense marketing plan, even by Walmart standards. It just slashed the cost of a Walmart+ membership in half, hoping a two-day sale will help it win more shoppers from the Amazon Prime fold. And it's introducing a multipronged marketing approach, using several campaigns that couldn't be more different.

Casey Schlaybaugh, vice president of brand for the Bentonville, Arkansas retailer, tells Retail Insider about the new approach.

Retail Insider: What's the overall strategy this season?

Casey Schlaybaugh: We continue to talk a lot about shortening the distance between where our customers are inspired and, ultimately, where they shop. It's important for us to show up where they are -- but also in a way that's most meaningful to them.

And our customers are coming off two hard years -- it's more important than ever to stretch the dollar. But we've also heard the importance of getting together this holiday season, and that determination to celebrate no matter what. And so while their holiday celebrations look a little different, we want Walmart to be there for them, to help them save on all the ways they holiday. And we're doing it in three different ways.

Retail Insider: Why not one big holiday campaign, as you typically do?

Schlaybaugh: So the first one is our larger holiday campaign. It's called "All the Ways We Holiday." And it builds on the insight that this year has been tough, and customers look forward to celebrating.

What's unique about Walmart is that these celebrations look so different for our customers because we touch so many people. This year, we went across the country and asked them how they celebrate and how Walmart fits in. Then we pulled that into the ads.

Retail Insider: They're fun -- from filé gumbo to karaoke to firecrackers. Any traditions that surprised you?

Schlaybaugh: One of the fun cultural ones is that we met a family who pack suitcases and run around outside to celebrate New Year's–for luck and prosperity.

Retail Insider: What's next?

Schlaybaugh: That one is running now and will continue all through the holidays. Next, we've got something we're calling "Holiday House," focusing on home as the epicenter of the holidays -- it's where memories are made.

So we've brought together creators from around the country to develop content at a home here in Bentonville, showcasing all the ways they holiday: food, gifts, and décor. All this content will fuel our social and digital feeds, inspiring customers with new ideas -- or maybe bringing their traditions to life in new ways.

Retail Insider: And you've also just launched a campaign that's quite quirky, starring the cast of "Office Space," minus Jennifer Aniston. Why reboot a '90s film for a 2022 ad campaign?

Schlaybaugh: Walmart always focuses on Black Friday. It's our biggest shopping day of the year. But because everything is starting earlier, all our Black Friday events will happen on Mondays, which is everyone's least favorite day of the week. So we wanted to flip the script and make Mondays the most loved day. "Office Space" is the film that made the phrase "Case of the Mondays" famous.

We've got Gary Cole -- we even bring back the real Michael Bolton. And these characters are coming to say no, they love Mondays. It's their favorite day of the week. This content will be episodic, running primarily on YouTube. We'll be in the head takeover position every Monday in November. And we'll also run in cinema and on some broadcast.

Retail Insider: Overall, any significant changes in media strategy this year?

Schlaybaugh: Our audience is broad, and we want to show up where they are. So TV and broadcast play a heavy role. But we also want to shorten the distance: How do we show up where they're searching for recipes on their social feeds? People are going to the movies this season, so we'll be there. Publicis is our creative and media agency.

Retail Insider: Inflation has been tough on people financially. It may not dampen their spirits, but it could change their spending. What are you seeing?

Schlaybaugh: Customers are making choices and trade-offs. They might not be going as big, or they might be celebrating in a slightly different way. Walmart's purpose is about saving people money and helping them live better. Right now, saving money is living better.

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