Marketing Plan for Walmart Inc.
Current Trends Affecting Walmart’s Marketing Plan
1 – Growth of Micro-Influencers (socio-cultural & technological trend): Over 20 years ago, marketing was based on advertising on newspapers, tv channels, radio channels. Now, most of the marketing is conducted on social media by making collaborations with influencers, Instagrammers, bloggers, etc (Forbes, 2018).
Positive implications of this trend for Walmart is that (a) How much Walmart integrates itself online platforms, social media platforms and influencers, they will avoid paying significant costs to traditional marketing channels; and (b) since influencers have loyal and regular followers who follow them in their day-to-day lives, Walmart is promoted in a natural and contextualised way.
Negative implications of this trend for Walmart is that (a) influencer marketing does not allow you to track your advertisement or promotion’s data and statistics directly, so campaign trackability could easily turn into an issue if Walmart does not work with trustworthy influencers; and (b) since micro-influencers on social media platforms are not professionals, they are just in fact regular people who gained some followers by just posting photos and videos, it could be hard for Walmart to find the right, reliable influencer(s) to work with and they can end up losing customers or incurring damage in brand reputation.
2 – Declining Birth Rates (demographical trend): Declining birth rates in Canada means less people shopping. Walmart should be more competitive to retain its existing customers and gain more new customers in the world of fewer people shopping.
This trend has mostly negative implications for Walmart; because, especially when we speak specifically in Canada, baby boomers population who are the wealthiest part of Canadian society are decreasing in numbers as the years go and the generation following baby boomers which are Generation X is not as wealthy as their parents.
There is no positive effect of this demographical trend for Walmart unless they turn this threat into opportunity by offering more products attractive to new generations to capture value from them.
3 – Digitalization and e-commerce (technological trend): The world is being digitalised and the businesses are following this trend day by day for the purposes of surviving in today’s digital world (Forbes, 2018).
Positive implications of this trend on Walmart is (a) being present in the digital world allows Walmart to reach more customers and expand their audiences, and (b) millennials consist huge part of customers nowadays and most of the millennial generation prefers shopping on digital platforms rather than going to brick-and-mortar stores.
Negative implications of this trend would be (a) there are more platforms and channels now the companies need to take care of. It was only the stores before, now they have also online websites, Instagram, Facebook, mobile applications, e-commerce platforms that they need to focus, invest money and time to run the business; (b) online channels have data privacy, cybersecurity and data protection problems which could cause Walmart to incur legal consequences and also damage on brand reputation.
Recommended Action Plans
1 – More Collaboration with Micro-Influencers: Since the world is getting more digitalised every day, it is a survival method for businesses like Walmart to engage in online platforms and collaborate with online influencers to promote their business and services. If Walmart increases its visibility and appearance in online channels and social media platforms like Instagram, this will boost the Promotional element of their 4P mix.
2 – Market Research on Millennials’ Shopping Habits And Preferences: This recommended action plan is very much related to Walmart’s Product mix under their 4P analysis; because, as said above, our society is changing demographical-wise and in order to offer the most profitable products to current or upcoming customer range, Walmart needs to conduct a market research on upcoming shopper generation which is millennials.
3 – Create More User-Friendly and Secure Online Channels: This action is related to Walmart’s Place strategy under its 4P analysis. Currently, Walmart has mainly brick and mortar style stores whereas its one of the biggest rival, Amazon, conducts its business almost fully online. If Walmart wants to draw some customers from Amazon in its stores, they need to improve the quality of their online channels as well as security of them.
3 Main Competitors of Walmart & 4P Analysis Comparisons
Walmart’s Unique Selling Difference is pursuing the bottom pricing strategy consistently. Amazon, Costco and Home Depot would be three examples for direct competitors of Walmart.
Amazon is the e-commerce version of Walmart, and Walmart is (mainly) brick and mortar version of Amazon. When we compare 4P analyses of these two companies, we see that both have similar Product strategy as primary product/service of both is retail service. They also have similar Price strategy as both pursue low pricing strategy to customers and consumers. In terms of Place element, Amazon is mainly based on e-commerce whereas Walmart primarily uses brick and mortar stores. Lastly, with respect to Promotion element, both same advertisements, sales promotions, and public relations.
Costco, one of the biggest competitors of Walmart, has two defining features: (a) being a warehouse chain, and (b) operating as membership-only. When we compare 4P analyses of these two companies, we see that they both have similar Price strategy as both pursue “everyday low price” strategy. In terms of Product mix, Costco has limited product offerings compared to Walmart, but they are expanding their product range over time. When it comes to Place mix, Costco has mainly warehouse-style stores different than Walmart’s and lastly for Promotional mix, both companies use same marketing communications tactics such as sales promotion, direct selling and personal selling.
Last but not least, Home Depot is a competitor for Walmart when it comes to go-to home-improvement retail services. When we compare 4P analyses of these two companies, we see for the Product mix, Home Depot has product offerings different than Walmart such as professional and contractor services and Home Depot house brands. In respect of Place mix, Home Depot has warehouse-style stores like Costco and also online store / mobile app like Walmart. Home Depot’s Promotional mix is very similar to Walmart as they both use advertising on TV commercials, sales promotions, public relations, etc. Lastly, in terms of Price element, Walmart and Home Depot pursue the same strategy which is “everyday low price” approach.
SWOT Analysis for a Product Being Sold at Walmart: Drones
Recently, Walmart started to sell drones (or legally called “unmanned aerial vehicles”) in its stores which are basically flying robots that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans, As I am very much interested in technology and the digital world’s advancements, I have concluded a SWOT analysis for drones:
– Increasing power of social media: Every day more and more social media influencers start using drones to take photo or videos
– Convenient to use, one remote control is enough for piloting drones
– Easy to carry everywhere because it is small and portable
– Drones are still expensive for a regular non-photographer people to buy
– Since they are flying vehicles and small, some people make them fly to private properties, take photos or videos of private/personal things, this harms the image of drones
– Growing consciousness of personal data and privacy protection make drones less desirable
– There are many industries or jobs where drones can be used, increased presence in those industries would be an opportunity
– Growing industry of influencer (social media) marketing
-Drone hunters (drones hunting drones)
– Growing perception that drones are violating personal privacy
– Laws and regulations designating certain places or fields where drone usage is prohibited
As seen above, drones have huge potential to increase their market share. Aerial photography/video is a niche market which is relatively new, so the potential to grow is huge. Aerial scene capturing or filming is the best done by drones nowadays. Drones even created a new job position for the industry: “drone driver”.
Marketing of this product is relatively easy. Social media and influencers are currently working as free advertisers for drone companies as social media platforms are full of photos and videos taken by drones every day which increase demand for drones on the consumer side. I see drone companies are making collaborations with micro-influencers, movie and series makers, news and media channels and even the real estate agencies (real estate agencies use drones to take pictures of houses and lands from on high to showcase the property) to promote their product and reach more audiences.
The biggest threat for drones is personal privacy violation committed by some drone drivers where they pilot their drones to private properties or confidential places. Since the marketing is all about creating and capturing value, drone companies should be more aware of where to focus for value proposition and how to capture it. In my opinion, success of drone companies is very well linked to their approach and resolution on how to solve the personal data and privacy concern of the customers.
Environmentalism and Sustainability Efforts of Walmart
Over the past decade, Walmart has been trying to promote its name and brand as a corporate environmentalist. In 2016, they donated more than 600 million pounds of food to charities (Kaufman, 2017). They declare that environmental sustainability is one of their core values. Reducing carbon footprint, decreasing energy consumption, reducing the waste they send to landfills are some of the objectives they are pursuing (Walmart, 2019). They also indicate in their website that they have three aspirational goals regarding global responsibility: (a) zero waste; (b) 100% renewable energy; and (c) 100% sustainable products (Walmart, 2019). According to Atamian, it has been 13 years since Walmart embarked on a journey for sustainability and now their sustainability initiatives are having a real impact today (2019).
Social Responsibility in Walmart
As the world’s largest company, Walmart’s contribution to the world’s strike against climate change has huge importance. According to 2018 Global Responsibility Report of Walmart, the following are some of the socially responsible actions that Walmart took in 2018 alone:
- Walmart funded the training of 1 million farmers, more than half of which were women
- They announced that they will invest $25 million on food safety projects in China over five years
- The company donated more than 38 million to hurricane relief
- 28 percent of electricity that Walmart used its stores have been generated from renewable sources in 2018
- The company stated that they are committed to addressing by 2025 major risks in relation to the dignity of workers within retail supply chains (Patrick, 2018).
In light of above, it is seen that Walmart is well aware that putting effort on corporate social responsibility is a key to success in today’s world since customers, consumers and other stakeholders want to see the companies be careful and respectful with our environment and planet.
Kaufman, A. C., (2017). Walmart Touts Itself As An Environmental Leader. Its Workers Say Otherwise. Retrieved September 25, 2019, from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/walmart-environmentalism_n_5907524ae4b02655f83eba40
Atamian, L., (2019). Why is Walmart a sustainability leader?. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-is-walmart-a-sustainability-leader_b_5a329da5e4b00caf3d59eae8?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAK-6n9x4TOKpWm92xJSACtezRwND9XYQuqtAoK2VzXH0Xrz-ywsd2or4MQ69OxCKCFfjZd9dPw8M8lDN9afAnHvAwOKg_0cV61qc_CMeQXmZ0x0Mypf2EUzxiThEYl_gRXRvRIshE9SZwdbieVi_ODru9Hah5D7CXViTn9r2bGPh
Patrick, K., (2018). Walmart’s improved social responsibility efforts begin with supply chain. Retrieved October 3, 2019, from https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/walmart-corporate-social-responsibility-efforts/521961/
Shaw, A., (2018). Digital Marketing Trends That Are Changing The Way We Market To Consumers. Retrieved October 4, 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/08/29/digital-marketing-trends-that-are-changing-the-way-we-market-to-consumers/#380695e06891
Walmart. (2018). 2018 Global Responsibility Report. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://corporate.walmart.com/media-library/document/2018-grr-summary/_proxyDocument?id=00000162-e4a5-db25-a97f-f7fd785a0001
Walmart. (2019). Sustainability. Retrieved October 4, 2019 from https://www.walmartcanada.ca/responsibility/sustainability
Walmart. (2019). Sustainability Index. Retrieved October 2, 2019, from https://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/environment-sustainability/sustainability-index-leaders-shop