Assuming you know who your customers are is a dangerous practice. The old saying goes when you â€œassumeâ€ you make an â€œassâ€ out of â€œuâ€ and â€œme.â€
Michael Barbaro reports in the New York Times that retail giant Walmart is classifying its 200 million customers into three categories:
There are â€œbrand aspirationalsâ€ (people with low incomes who are obsessed with names like KitchenAid), â€œprice-sensitive affluentsâ€ (wealthier shoppers who love deals), and â€œvalue-price shoppersâ€ (who like low prices and cannot afford much more).
The problem is that this attempt at classifying wasn’t a look back at who Sam Walton was targeting in 1962 when he opened his first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas. This is just an attempt to justify Walmart’s new strategy of stocking and advertising new lines of upmarket merchandise.
When Sam opened that store in Rogers, Arkansas, he wasn’t dividing his customers into segments, he had a passion. If you’ll look at Walmart’s “big” growth years it wasn’t when they were trying to penetrate the suburbs of Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles….. Walmart’s greatest success was when Sam was building his Walmart stores in communities who had been OVERLOOKED by major retailers such as JC Penney and Sears.
Low prices, a wide selection and an obsession with customer service was the foundation for a company whose sales last year were more than the Gross Domestic Product of Australia. This recent attempt to claim current strategies are an attempt to meet customer needs…. well, it just doesn’t hold water.
If you’re smaller than Walmart (and by definition, we all are) then this provides a HUGE opportunity. You may not want to compete with Walmart on price….but you can certainly take them on in their weak spot. Focus upon your customer with laser precision… know their wants, know their needs and help to meet them and you’ll beat Walmart every time!