Retail Brand leader goes to Target with Walmart number two

I recently did a review for a vendor of the number one and number two retailer referenced in this article. Based on my review of Walmart verses Target the order of best was reversed. Target should be number one, not based on volume but on the shopping experience.Having a long relationship with both retailers and experienced the evolution of their store presentation and product offering I think Target has been proactive in their thinking and Walmart reactive.Target has been a sea of red when you entered their store. In concert with their advertising they consistently have a brand recognition without the name even visible. The interior of Target is upscale, they used slat wire units before Walmart. Their graphics are well defined, depict the lifestyle they stand for and have expressed their message to the consumers for years. When Isaac Mizrahi was introduced to Target, it changed the world of Branding in Mass retail. Walmart looking for an answer to Target’s Isaac over a year later landed on George by Me, created by a top designer Mark Eisen. Although the product was innovative, the line was hindered by a reorganization at Walmart which led to the brands demise.Walmart has now introduced a more upscale flooring material. Walmart has become a sea of blue obviously to compete against the color red. Walmart have gone to yet another department sign system which has a very “cheap” look to it. Creativity lacks in a Walmart Store while it reeks in a Target Store. I understand that cost is a major consideration is Walmart, but Target works under the same restraints and pays attention to detail in their display presentation. Walmart uses extrusions, molded clips, mass produced display elements which are very constructional in nature. I think their customer is sophisticated enough to recognize mediocre design solutions. Sure it keeps product pricing down and perhaps that is acceptable to their consumers.One could never take away the success Walmart has enjoyed over many years and certainly they are a power to reckon with. I lived Walmart in the 70;s and 80’s when Mr. Sam was taking hold of the industry. He was innovative, he was a people person and he had relationships with vendors which led to their overwhelming success.What Target has done in my mind was to reach out to the Department store customer who felt the pinch of the economy and make them feel that shopping at Target was not a radical step down from Macy’s.Walmart’s message, in my eye, is they are representing a step up from Family Dollar. As the two approach the middle of the off price retail spectrum it will be interesting to see who leads the way and wins those customers. Will price prevail or will style win over.Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.Partner rddassociatesinc Store Planners NYC

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