Not content to undercut every other conceivable type of mom-and-pop store, Wal-Mart has now set it sights on the recession-proof business of death.
True to its 'high price of low cost' form, Wal-Mart is now selling caskets and urns for less. For the moment, the products are only available on the Wal-Mart website. But, I have to believe it won't be too much longer before a Wal-Mart greeter, dressed in mourning black, suggests you visit aisle seven for the latest in low-priced funeral accessories.
Wal-Mart has clearly hit a new low (about six feet under to be precise).
Death is a big business that, until Uncle Sam & Co's emergence, was dominated by a few, large funeral chains and lots of mom and pop types. So, how do the latter fight back? The only possible strategy is to go up-market and adopt a value-added solutions provider positioning.
'Sure, Mr. Dimwitted, you can buy the Instant Karma model on Wal-Mart's web site for $500 less, but our 'afterlife' consultants are available 24×7 (yes, they work the graveyard shift as well). They'll help you choose interior color patterns for the casket. Would the deceased prefer paint, wood laminate or, perhaps, a floral wallpaper pattern? Wal-Mart can't help you with those decisions. And, an urn is an urn is an urn on the Wal-Mart website. Not so with us. Our afterlife consultants will custom fit the ashes. Could you imagine anything worse than spending eternity in a poorly-fitting urn? That's my idea of hell, Mr. Dimwitted.'
In a perverse kind of way, I admire ruthless marketers like Wal-Mart. They have no shame. And, they'll squeeze every supplier, underpay every employee and undercut every competitor. It's a sure fire formula for success in this world. But, will the Wal-Mart's of the world have to answer to an even higher authority in the next? I leave that to Brother Harold Camping and his followers to decide. Hey, just imagine the rush for Wal-Mart caskets on May 22, 2011 (that's when Brother Camping predicts the world will end).
*Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea for this post.