Wal-Mart plans ad campaign to woo back shoppers

AP News
Posted: Apr 11, 2011 12:01 AM
Wal-Mart plans ad campaign to woo back shoppers

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a national TV ad campaign Monday highlighting its renewed focus on low prices and its price match policy in a bid to bring back customers who no longer trust it has the lowest prices.

The campaign bears the slogan "Low Prices. Every Day. On Everything."

"We have lost our customer confidence ... in having the lowest price," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart in an interview with The Associated Press.

"Our company is determined to create the best one-stop shopping experience and low prices on the right products backed by a clear, consistent ad match policy," added MacNaughton.

The new commercials come as Wal-Mart's U.S. business is still smarting over the mistakes it made on pricing and merchandising and as it faces increasing price competition from dollar chains and Amazon.com.

The world's largest retailer failed to reverse an almost two-year slide in a key revenue measure in its fourth quarter, which ended in January, after all but promising in November it would do just that.

Last year, Wal-Mart had strayed from its "everyday low prices," the bedrock philosophy of founder and namesake Sam Walton. Late last year it has been again emphasizing low prices across the whole store, instead of heavily promoting selected items.

It has also been adding back thousands of products it had culled in an overzealous bid to clean up stores.

It could take a while to reverse the sales declines. The company predicted in February that revenue at stores open at least a year for its U.S. namesake discount stores should be anywhere from down 2 percent to unchanged for the current quarter compared with the same quarter last year.

Wal-Mart's price-match policy has been around for several years, but in recent months, the company has been using it as a weapon to compete with rivals.

In recent weeks, Wal-Mart said it has been training sales associates to better police prices of local competitors. Another change is customers won't have to bring in the competitors' advertisement to the cash register to get the match because the sales associates should have the information on hand. Customers will still have to ask for the price match.

Wal-Mart also increasing the products it stocks by 8,500 items, or 11 percent in an average store, Duncan said. In some categories, the selection will be more than before its sweeping efforts to slash inventory, he said.

The changes are bringing back customers' favorite local food and favorite brands in household basics as well as in general merchandise like consumer electronics. Some of the changes are tailored to local markets. In Phoenix, for example, shoppers will find pool supplies and outdoor lawn and garden year round.