Wal-Mart hopes low-price pitch will help end slump
NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is hammering home its low-price message with a new ad campaign in a bid to bring back customers who no longer trust it to save them money.
The campaign bears the slogan “Low Prices. Every Day. On Everything’’ and features five 30-second commercials, including ads featuring an Easter egg hunt and a customer asking for a price match.
“We have lost our customer confidence . . . in having the lowest price,’’ said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart.
The new commercials come as Wal-Mart tries to reverse a nearly two-year slide in an important revenue measure at its US business.
Sales at those stores are hurting because of mistakes the retailer made on price and selection. Wal-Mart also faces increasing price competition from dollar chains and Amazon.com.
In fact, its slogan “Save Money. Live Better,’’ in use for several years, now appears in smaller type in the ads, underscoring Wal-Mart’s shift in strategy to hammer hard that it has everything shoppers need at rock-bottom prices.
Wal-Mart is restoring thousands of items it had stopped carrying in an overzealous bid to clean up its stores, from fishing supplies in Dallas to snowblowers in Minneapolis, and has returned to its “Everyday Low Prices’’ roots. It’s highlighting these items with new “It’s Back’’ flags on store shelves later this month.
To change perceptions, the company also said it is directing employees to comb through competitors’ advertisements so price matches at the register are easier.
“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,’’ MacNaughton said.
Last year, Wal-Mart had strayed from its “everyday low prices,’’ the bedrock philosophy of founder Sam Walton. Late last year it switched back to emphasizing low prices across the whole store, instead of heavily promoting selected items.
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 US Wal-Mart stores should be anywhere from down 2 percent to unchanged for the current quarter compared with the same quarter last year.
The campaign is an acknowledgement that Wal-Mart traffic is still weak, Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi said.
“I am concerned that Wal-Mart is taking to the airwaves at the same time it acknowledges it’s not where it needs to be with product restoration, therefore risking customer disappointment yet again,’’ he said.