In an attempt to off-set weak online sales, mega retailer Wal-Mart is going upscale. According to an article in today’s NY Times, affluent web surfers will now be able to purchase $7,500 plasma screens, a $10,000 white gold ring and many other high-end accessories on Wal-mart’s online store.
Sorry to rain on the Bentonville Behemoth’s parade, but this is one marketing ploy that ain’t going to fly. Can you imagine anyone with the disposable income necessary to acquire such baubles going to Walmart.com? It strains credulity.
I can almost picture some mega rich doyenne of Manhattan society confiding to a friend, "Well darling, Bergdorf’s simply didn’t have the range of cashmere coats I was looking for, so I logged on to walmart.com and found a dreamy $5,000 sports jacket that’s just right for Biff."
Brands often go astray when they deviate from their long-established positioning. And, while there are certainly exceptions to the rule, Wal-mart isn’t going to be one of them. I just don’t think we’ll be hearing that familiar disembodied voice in Wal-mart stores adding this potential corollary anytime soon: "Attention Wal-mart shoppers. In addition to today’s sales on tissues, paper plates and napkins, and a super reduced price on steak knives, we’ll be offering Patek Phillipe’s new Sprig line of wristwatches on walmart.com."
Attention Wal-mart: stick with the marketing strategy that got you where you are.