Great Value is one of Walmart’s most developed retail brands. Launched in 1993, it offers hundreds of grocery and non-food items ranging from sliced bread and frozen vegetables to lightbulbs, trash bags, and other household essentials (Neebe, 2020). Its products are claimed to be almost as good as some of the major brands’ offerings currently on display, with the advantage in price due to the lack of advertising and marketing costs (Neebe, 2020). With the brand’s weaknesses being unappealing package design, unavailability outside of the chain, and high employee turnover that damages its reputation, a new strategy needs to be developed to improve the company’s performance. The SOSTAG (Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, Control) framework provides a structured approach to evaluating the brand’s current market position and establishing a marketing plan to address the existing challenges.
Great Value is Walmart’s top-selling retail brand offering a wide range of grocery and household items sold internationally in the company’s stores. The goods are not produced by Walmart but are manufactured by corporations, which, in addition to making their products, supply major retail chains. The company is committed to “providing customers with quality products at unbeatable prices” and claims that it is a grocery and household consumable options are comparable in quality to large national brands (Walmart, n. d.). With the Great Value offerings sold at lower prices than name-brand products, they are primarily aimed at low- to middle-income customers.
The marketing mix of 4Ps describes the company’s marketing options in terms of product, price, place, and promotion:
- Product: The Great Value line features over 850 items covering nearly all grocery and household categories (Fortune 500). The product variety is remarkably wide, and the brand is well-distributed.
- Pricing: The Great Value products are sold at low prices, which is one of the brand’s main selling points.
- Place: The Great Value goods can be found in every Walmart shop all over the world. The downside is that the products are not available outside the chain.
- Promotion: Walmart implements a variety of practices to promote its store brand. The main tools include physical and online advertising, giveaways, and reduced-price strategies.
The SWOT analysis of the main factors of the company’s internal and external strategic environment identifies the following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (David, Creek, & David, 2019):
- Brand strengths (S) include high levels of brand recognition, presence and expansion, low prices, access to global supply and logistics systems, an effective HR and resource management system, and the position of dominance over suppliers.
- Brand weaknesses (W) are an imitation of other brands, unappealing package design, the average quality of products, and the lack of presence outside of the Walmart shop chain.
- The main opportunities (O) for further development are design improvements, adoption of higher quality standards, and brand strengthening.
- The threats (T) that the company now faces are the COVID-19 pandemic, competition with other brands, and controversies regarding quality, imitations, and supplier treatment.
Based on the SWOT analysis, the following SMART objectives for the Great Value product line can be established:
- Design and implementation of a new recognizable and appealing package design by the end of this year.
- Increasing the quality of goods that receive the most complaints from customers so that it is in line with the average quality of the company’s products by the end of this year.
- Re-negotiating the terms with suppliers to improve the company’s image in media and among customers. Reputation responses should improve by at least 10% by the end of the year.
- In light of COVID-19 and the general impoverishment of the population, reduce prices of products by 5% while retaining the existing profit margins.
The brand’s existing marketing mix is reasonably effective for maintaining current market positions and even generating small growth due to socio-economic changes that make people buy cheaper products. However, said growth could be enhanced by focusing on brand image, perception, quality, and prices (Steenkamp, 2017). Brand image and perception can be improved by addressing the issues of packaging appearance and poor reputation. Brand quality is connected to Walmart’s relationships with suppliers and the company’s control over the production process (Steenkamp, 2017). Current prices are determined by the existing logistics and supply chain, expenditures for employee labor and retention, as well as the forces of supply and demand. To reduce prices, the company should either reduce expenditures or stimulate the economy of scale.
Based on the SWOT analysis, the following strategies for achieving the proposed objectives can be suggested. The S–O plan of action includes enhancing brand recognition through package redesign. The primary W–O strategy is aimed at improving the quality of products while retaining the price. The S–T approach should utilize the company’s strong HR practices to eliminate controversies regarding supplier treatment (Neebe, 2020). Finally, the W–T strategy should seek to give Walmart’s generic brand a recognizable image and qualities that are not easy to imitate to strengthen its position against competitors.
The existing Walmart’s tactical approach focuses more on processes rather than service and people. While the quality of most Great Value products is deemed largely acceptable, the quality of service and the level of employee satisfaction are low (LeCavalier, 2016). It is the result of the company’s poor employee relations policy, which leads to high turnover rates as well as reputation losses. It is possible to address these issues on a tactical scale while accomplishing the overarching strategic goals.
With the strategy determining particular market segments that should be targeted, tactics focus on specific tools that could be used to realize the proposed objectives.
- Package redesign should preserve the existing appeal and retain brand recognition while making the products more attractive to existing and potential customers (Roberts & Berg, 2012). The choice of colors can be revised for the packaging to appear more desirable to the target audience.
- Controversies regarding suppliers and employees should be addressed by improving the quality of their labor conditions and treatment (Neebe, 2020). Any expenditures associated with this initiative are likely to be covered by the reduced turnover rates and training expenditures.
- Quality issues can be solved in conjunction with suppliers by appointing Walmart quality managers to oversee the production processes.
- Prices should be formulated with an emphasis on generating more sales, which would be further stimulated by improved packaging, quality, and brand reputation.
- Some of the important control metrics for the KPI should include sales volumes, reputation surveys, quality surveys, and expenditures per unit produced (Neebe, 2020).
To improve its reputation as an employer, Walmart will need to make significant changes to the management strategy, as well as the training process of its employees. McMann (2019). argues that “if Walmart was to change its corporate strategy from cost leadership to help generate less negative criticism and high turnover rates, it would dramatically alter the foundation” of the company (p. 4). However, by decreasing turnover rates and raising the quality of employee-customer interactions, the company can increase profits by spending less on training programs and by retaining a higher number of customers.
At this time, Walmart focuses solely on sales volumes; however, by taking an in-depth look into human resources management, it can adjust its operating costs by investing in more efficient management. However, the company has acknowledged long-standing issues that adversely impact its social reputation and has shown readiness to change its disposition towards low-end employees (Neebe, 2020). While changes are being implemented regarding employee livelihood conditions, the company still needs to address employee-manager relationships by implementing new policies regarding managers’ professional attitudes and leadership skills.
Like with any organization, employees can help generate value for products, almost as much as an optimized supply chain can. For example, Neebe (2020) states that “bBy 2025, Walmart U.S. will have put millions of associates through focused training programs like Walmart Academy to equip them with skills to improve career growth” (p. 68). The company has already launched several employee-oriented programs that aim to affect their attitude positively, and these benefits will be transferred to customers as the workers will be more eager to help them.
The company has acknowledged its overly strict set of requirements towards suppliers. Neebe (2020) writes that Walmart “opened over 600 cases involving allegations of supply chain misconduct” (p. 68). By addressing current rules to make them more friendly, Walmart can benefit from a higher number of companies willing to put their products on the shelves of the chain’s stores. Moreover, the company’s changing requirements include the need for sustainable packaging, which, in turn, can be perceived as more desirable for customers.
Overall, Walmart should be able to generate more value from an increased number of suppliers, as well as decreased turnover rates. Nowadays, showing respect for employees is as important as it is for customers. By improving the working conditions, Walmart can improve its reputation with its clients by changing the staff’s attitude to more positive and friendly. If Walmart fixes its relationships with its suppliers and improves its employee and customer relations, it can attract more business partners willing to put their products on their store shelves.
To monitor and measure the company’s performance, a range of applicable control tools should be implemented. They include the 5 S’s (sell, serve, sizzle, speak, save), key performance indicators, visibility testing, mystery shopping, and customer satisfaction surveys. Some tools and metrics are applicable regardless of the current objective, while others depend on the type of campaign the company is running (Chaffey, 2019). A regular analysis provides valuable information on whether the company meets its current goals, how and regarding what it has failed, and what should be changed in terms of strategy and tactics.
- The suggested key performance indicators for a house brand include gross profit, sales and cost of goods sold, market share, and customer satisfaction. One of the most important performance indicators that should be monitored is the percentage of house brand sales compared to the sales of name-brand products within the same category.
- The 5 S’s tool monitors the brand’s compliance with the five fundamental goals of a marketing campaign: Sell, Serve, Speak, Save, and Sizzle (Chaffey, 2019). Sell refers to the company’s main goal of gaining profit as much as possible from sales. Serve implies that a brand should know the needs and requirements of its customers and serve them accordingly. Speak means that communication plays a major role in any marketing campaign, and each particular strategy should address customers’ needs in a clear and concise language. Save encourages the company to save its money, time, and efforts. Sizzle is about creating, broadening, and establishing the brand’s presence on the market.
- Visibility testing is used in packaging design to ensure that the brand’s products are easy to notice on shelves and attract customers’ attention. High visibility increases brand recognition and helps to boost sales performance. Testing should be conducted each time packaging is developed or redesigned.
- Customer satisfaction surveys should be performed regularly to get feedback and measure the level of customer satisfaction with each particular product and the brand in general. If put together correctly, customer surveys provide valuable insights into the customer shopping experience.
Walmart’s Great Value brand’s current position on the market is strong due to its low prices and extensive presence in the network’s stores. The brand’s weaknesses include quality, packaging, supplier, and employee issues that need to be addressed on the strategical and tactical levels. The proposed marketing strategy includes initiatives aimed at new packaging design, increasing the quality of goods, re-negotiating the terms of service with suppliers, and improving the company’s employee relations policy. The implementation of applicable control tools is crucial in evaluating the company’s progress in achieving the proposed objectives.
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