By Lesley Neadel, CooperKatz
Stephen Quinn of Walmart kicked off the presentations of the 2009 ANA Annual Conference. He described Walmart’s current main objective: to sharply focus on their customers, something that the organization had stopped doing. Quinn warned, “If you’re not organizing around the customer, you are at risk as a company. He spoke from experience. “We lost our way,” said Quinn, “and it was as simple as focusing on our customers to get us back on track.”
The idea at the brand’s center from its inception was to lower the cost of living for people. Yet, five years ago, the brand got confused, as the nation was trending towards mass affluence. Showcasing ads that he admitted he was not proud of, Quinn said they were attempting to find a way for Walmart to play into that trend.
This has all changed now, as Quinn proclaimed that Walmart is proudly focused back on their lower prices – and he unapologetically told the crowd that if the ads didn’t speak to them, they probably aren’t in their target audience.
Their customers are price-sensitive, but looking for a variety of items, and of course good quality. Walmart strives to provide a one-stop shop for all of these things, and judging from a video that had their employees reading letters from customers, they are succeeding. These were powerful letters, describing how Walmart has affected their lives in profound and meaningful ways. They credited Walmart with keeping them from going off of the deep end, and being able to feed their children and teach them about shopping for value.
Quinn then talked about the paycheck cycle – something that has been much more recognizable this year, vs. last. Walmart notices a huge surge in purchases at the beginning of the month, and less so but still noticeably mid-month. It is so radical that on the last day of the month, in the final 12 hours of that day, sales are down 10-20% from the prior year. Then, at midnight, once the 1st of the month paychecks hit, Walmart sees a surge in business of 200-300% from the prior year. People flood to the store to buy diapers, formula and food.
Walmart provides real solutions for so many families in America – and Quinn told the audience that he strives to provide real, tangible solutions for them all.