I understand that there are more than a few people to whom the above statement will be fighting words. But you read correctly and I am absolutely serious and intentional in stating it that way. Wal-Mart is a friend to your business, if you’re doing your marketing correctly. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Recently my wife Julie and I were cruising through Wal-Mart getting some groceries. We happened upon a couple who are friends of ours. As we walked up to them it was not difficult to see they were very agitated. After an quick exchange of hellos, we asked them what was the matter. “We came here to buy a flat screen tv and we can’t find anyone here to help us or answer our questions!” the wife of the couple said in outrage. I laughed, which didn’t endear myself to them. I said, “You’ve obviously come to the wrong place. Wal-Mart sells low prices and that’s it. Don’t ask Wal-Mart to do what it isn’t designed to do and don’t get mad at them for not doing what they’ve never said they do. If you’re seeking answers or advice, you’re better off going out the door and heading to a locally-owned store, Target, or Best Buy.” My answer – and certainly not my attitude – didn’t comfort them but as a business owner or marketing professional it should comfort you.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of local businesses who quake in their boots when Wal-Mart comes to town and they shouldn’t. What happens to most businesses who lose to Wal-Mart is because the local business chose to fight Wal-Mart on Wal-Mart’s terms, not vice versa.If you try to fight Wal-Mart on price, YOU WILL LOSE. But here’s the good news for you…in today’s economy price is a consideration but VALUE is the most important factor in buying decisions. We no longer live in an economy where we have the luxury of throwing something away and buying it new again.If consumers buy something today – say a DVD or Blu-Ray player – that thing better last awhile because their discretionary income isn’t what it was before 2008. There is no longer a guarantee they’ll have the money to replace an item if it breaks down sooner rather than later.
In addition to the economy dynamic, at the point where they are considering buying from one retailer over another, consumers are asking, “What am I getting for that price?” Wal-Mart sells low prices and that’s it. That is their business model. It’s not a good business model, it’s not a bad business model but it’s their business model. Where you win is if your business offers a COMPETITIVE PRICE with a value above and beyond anything Wal-Mart refuses to offer because of their business model.Show consumers that dollar for dollar your value exceeds what Wal-Mart’s price offers and see how the customer responds. Don’t get scared that you can’t compete with Wal-Mart’s price, celebrate the fact that Wal-Mart can’t compete with your value proposition. Can our local businesses win with value in this economy? You bet. I’ve seen it again and again. What is the value proposition your business offers that your competitors can’t? Identify that and then don’t let anyone forget it.