"One of Walmart’s latest offerings at its SuperCenters isn’t a hot new toy, snack flavor or sundress. It’s advertising.
"Shoppers will soon see more third-party ads on screens in Walmart self-checkout lanes and TV aisles; hear spots over the store’s radio; and be able to sample items at demo stations.
"Walmart’s push into advertising resembles similar moves by retailers like Kroger, which struck a deal to bring digital smart screens to cooler aisles in hundreds of its stores, and Target, which began testing in-store demos and giveaways, including a recent 'Barbie' branded event with Mattel that took place at about 200 stores.
"For Walmart, selling ad space to its wealth of existing partners is another way to capitalize on the company’s huge reach and to expand into higher-margin businesses. The discounter has nearly 4,700 stores across the U.S., with roughly 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart store."
- KC's View:
I get it. All those stores, all those customers, and all those advertising dollars just waiting to be snared with a pitch that emphasizes targeted, relevant marketing.
Moves like these, however, strike me as being more focused on creating alternative and supplementary revenue streams, not on actually creating a better customer experience.
They can work, selectively. Anybody hosting a "Barbie"-themed event over the past few weeks should be applauded for taking advantage of the moment. But that's different from barraging shoppers with ad messages constantly, relentlessly, and ultimately annoyingly. I think the noise created may not add up to a more educated and responsive customer to the degree that the parties involved may hope.
If I am a customer - whether in a store or online - I want to be educated. Inspired. Enlightened. Surprised. And while I am there to buy something, I may not want to be constantly sold something.
Now, this may seem to run contrary to something I talk about a lot, which is that retailers need to go beyond a if-we-build-it-they-will-come mindset, and actually be more aggressive about marketing. But it really isn't - I believe in marketing, but I worry that this is something different, emphasizing the fact that the store is a repository for other people's brands rather than being a brand in and of itself.