It has been a while since i've written an entry, so of course I took the easy route and decided to comment on Wal-Mart. Their latest is that they are having problems with their apparel department after they hired Mark Eisen to help fix their problems. In classic Wal-Mart fashion, they had cheap goods (that happened to be well designed). However, does the brand Wal-Mark value design in general or is it about cheap?
One analyst even said: "Wal-Mart is so good at providing things based on price that I'm not certain they've yet grasped how to promote items that aren't solely based on price."
That says a lot.
The Wal-Mart brand is about cheap. People think about Wal-Mart and think "I'm going to go there to get something cheap." They don't think well-designed (Target) or good value (Kohl's). When it comes to apparel, most people think that Wal-Mart is going to offer cheap clothing and the quality is second-level.
I wonder if Wal-Mart has done a brand perception study just to see how people respond to the brand in general. I have a feeling that they would find that in some ways, their business practices have pushed them against a wall from inexpensive quality to now just plain cheap and now they need to change their perception to compete. People value quality (which is defined differently by different people in different markets) and cheap isn't always the winner. Well, except at Wal-Mart. They really need to stop expanding beyond the cheap market and let Kohl's and Target explore quality.