Walmart gets how female shoppers want to connect

Articles
December 03, 2008

Walmart gets how female shoppers want to connect

Walmart intends to become a triple-threat in electronic communications, delivering targeted ‘savings’ messages through social networks on the Internet, cell phones and its growing in-store media network. Few retailers have made such a commitment to new media, or have the critical mass to reinforce a core theme that is so right for these economic times it will further cement the giant discounter’s frugal image. Initiatives will engage female household heads, for example, with an “Elevenmoms” blog that offers economizing tips and encourages discussion, according to coverage of a recent Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce luncheon. There, according to coverage by the Northwest Arkansas Morning News, suppliers heard the chain’s director of emerging media John Andrews describe some of the e-advances. Also among them: Posting shoppers’ videos on savings to Walmart’s YouTube channel (more than 100 have posted already, and the channel has more than 16.8 million views since its inception in 2006). Using willing moms as focus groups. Texting price rollback alerts with shopper permission.

Walmart intends to become a triple-threat in electronic communications, delivering targeted ‘savings’ messages through social networks on the Internet, cell phones and its growing in-store media network.

Few retailers have made such a commitment to new media, or have the critical mass to reinforce a core theme that is so right for these economic times it will further cement the giant discounter’s frugal image.

Initiatives will engage female household heads, for example, with an “Elevenmoms” blog that offers economizing tips and encourages discussion, according to coverage of a recent Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce luncheon. There, according to coverage by the Northwest Arkansas Morning News, suppliers heard the chain’s director of emerging media John Andrews describe some of the e-advances.

Also among them: Posting shoppers’ videos on savings to Walmart’s YouTube channel (more than 100 have posted already, and the channel has more than 16.8 million views since its inception in 2006). Using willing moms as focus groups. Texting price rollback alerts with shopper permission.

Walmart announced in September it will roll out Walmart Smart Network to 2,700 of its stores in partnership with Premier Retail Networks.  A USA Today account in 2007 estimated the potential audience at more than 127 million shoppers per week, and noted that CPG suppliers such as Pfizer, Unilever and Frito-Lay had already developed custom content for this audience. Why not? In-store TV is targeted, interactive and measurable. Messages can be targeted to specific aisles in individual stores, close to product displays at specific times of day.

This forward march corroborates a 2007 Booz & Company report (with DemandTec and the Trade Promotion Management Association) that 95% of CPG marketing executives plan to either maintain (49%) or increase (46%) investments in retail-based media through 2009.

The burning question, of course, is whether other retailers will aggressively employ new media to connect with shoppers the way they want, or linger too long over the expense or details of e-programs that ought to be enacted right away.

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