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Wal-Mart’s ‘Save Money —
Live Better’ Slogan Is Step In Right Direction

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, September 14, 2007

Wal-Mart has announced a new slogan. Instead of “Always Low Prices. Always” the new slogan will be “Save Money. Live Better.”

Many media reports said this was the first slogan change in 19 years — which is not quite true. Back in 1994, Wal-Mart was compelled to change its slogan, which had been “Always the low price. Always” when the National Advertising Review Board found it deceptive.

The Board was responding to an appeal brought by local Better Business Bureaus and several competitors of Wal-Mart, including Target Stores (at that time a division of the Dayton Hudson Corporation) and Meijer Inc.

The complaint claimed that the slogan inaccurately implied that Wal-Mart’s prices were the lowest prices on each and every item, each and every place and each and every time. The Board agreed this could mislead some shoppers and Wal-Mart changed its slogan.

The new one is unquestionably better from a marketing perspective. Always low prices is a feature that Wal-Mart offers. It is an ironclad rule that we don’t sell features, we sell benefits.

“Save Money. Live Better” combines both. “Save money” is a feature. “Live Better” is a benefit.

So it should be more effective. And it is based on an important reality that Wal-Mart needs to emphasize when so many of its enemies are inclined to think that low prices translate into safety issues, sub-par treatment of employees, etc. Wal-Mart needs to emphasize that its low prices translate into better lives for tens of millions of families:

In Wal-Mart’s case, the agency latched on to a study by the economic research firm Global Insight that found the retailer’s low prices saved customers $287 billion last year — or $2,500 per household.

The agency crafted the two kickoff ads around that number. Each ends with the new slogan and a question, “Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 per year. What will you do with your savings?”

In one commercial, a man and his son drive to a used-car lot. The son spots a sporty red car. The father elbows him and tells him to go check it out. As the son runs his fingers across the hood, cue tagline.

In the other, a real-life family leaves a Wal-Mart parking lot in their minivan and hits the road for a vacation. They stay at a tiny hotel. The kids jump on the bed. They swim in a pool, eat ice cream and frolic on the beach. Then the van is shown headed down the highway, passing underneath a sign pointing toward Orlando. Cue tagline.

“I love retail ads that make a specific promise,” said Steve Bassett, a creative director at Martin. “Always low prices was specific, but for me, ‘Save Money. Live Better’ is a bigger promise that is backed up by a number that’s pretty impressive.”

It is a good change for Wal-Mart. The disaster, however, will be if management thinks the new slogan is a way of broadening Wal-Mart’s appeal to upper income shoppers.

Wal-Mart can sell Clorox to many affluent people — they know a bargain as well as anyone. But clothing is a sign post of social standing, and that means it is highly unlikely Wal-Mart will sell a lot of upscale clothing without alienating its shopper base.

If Wal-Mart sticks to the idea that its low prices are a priceless gift to the millions of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck, then the new campaign will be a big winner for Wal-Mart.

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