Three years ago, they began re-positioning themselves with a new slogan, "Save Money. Live Better." New advertising messages were rolled out portraying a warmer, family-friendly Wal-Mart. No more Smiley-Faces slashing prices in every aisle.
The idea was to appeal to a "middle-class" market segment who wanted more fashionable merchandise and lower prices due to the recession.
Guess what? Wal-Mart got it wrong. The strategy didn't work. It alienated their core customer base who wanted "everyday low prices."
To regroup, Wal-Mart is doing more than just returning to their roots. They're launching a massive, multi-billion dollar strategy that could re-make the face of retailing.
As you'll read in this Wall Street Journal Story [Download Wal-Mart sees Small Stores in Big Cities], there's a new Wal-Mart coming to town. No more big-box stores (typically about 185,000 square feet (over 4 acres) under one roof). Instead, they'll be "Neighborhood Markets" ranging in size from 30,000 to 60,000 square feet or only about a quarter of the size of a "Super Center."
For years, Portland effectively blocked big-box stores, forcing Wal-Mart, Target and others into existing buildings. Wal-Mart plans to work around this roadblock by building more, smaller stores (a typical grocery store is about 45,000 square feet in area) rather than a few, huge stores.
To do this, they'll spend about $7.5 to $8 Billion a year for the next few years. By comparision, the annual General Fund budget for the State of Oregon is about $7 Billion. And, unlke the State, Wal-Mart has that much cash, and more, in their bank account.
Keep an eye on this. It could the biggest brand re-positioning/strategic shift in retailing history.