Did Wal-mart Forget What Made Them Famous?

The Wall Street Journal reported in their Tuesday edition that “Wal-Mart is in the midst of its worst US sales slump ever.”   In an attempt to be more competitive, the $300 billion retail chain tried to broaden their target audience beyond the American working class and appeal to a broader audience.  So they added organic foods and skinny jeans and cleaned up the aisles to attract a higer income customer. 

Appealing to an audience that is too broad will usually result in connecting with very few.   Segmenting the market into specific targets and serving the unique needs of that target is an approach for connecting with many.  It is counterintuitive, but unfortunately for Wal-Mart, so true.  You can’t be all things to all people.  The surprise is that even bright people at the biggest discount chain in the United States can make that basic mistake.

If Wal-Mart can fall into that trap, how easy is it for someone providing professional services to do the same.  Being famous for something by being laser focused wins over being a generalist and chasing everything. 

A Wal-Mart Store

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2 Comments on “Did Wal-mart Forget What Made Them Famous?”

  1. bacchusprod Says:

    You’ve made some good points. Here’s my 2 cents. There is a group of people, who won’t shop at Wal-Mart for a number of different reasons. I am one of them. I’m also a person who supports organic farming. But Wal-Mart adding organic food is still not going to get me to shop there. Organic produce will just rot on the shelves as the obese shoppers pass them by.

  2. Sue Silva Says:

    As a marketing professional, I can’t tell you how many customers want to market broad, thinking they’ll get more business, versus specific. I always tell them, “Less is more.” Having a very specific target or offering a specific service means spending less marketing dollars and usually, when done correctly, a higher ROI.


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