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Walmart Gears Up For Online Shopping Battle

Mary Drumond
10 Jan, 2019


If you're reading this blog then chances are you're an adult, or at the very least on the path to being one. As we grow, so do our interests and expectations of the world around us, but keeping up with the individual likes, interests, and dislikes for any demographic is nigh on impossible.

Listen to Michael Barber Explain Why Marketers Should Embrace Customer  Experience >

Despite the huge task of creating a successful and appealing marketing campaign, Walmart's newest ad has been able to capture huge amounts of positive publicity.

Using some of the most ubiquitous characters of the past 30 years, famous vehicles from Ghostbusters, Knight Rider, Jurassic Park, Scooby-Doo, Transformers, Batman, and even Cinderella make appearances in a wildly entertaining segment promoting curbside pick-up.

While my personal favorite was the DeLorean from Back to the Future, I was able to understand and recognize just about all of the featured cars and references in the ad (including Sam Walton's red and white F-150 at the end), and to me, this means that Walmart executed a brilliant campaign, hitting its target audience, me, head-on. Walmart is targeting a very specific audience with this campaign: millennials. More specifically, working millennials with families.

According to Valassis, 7% of all shoppers said they order groceries weekly online. But that figure climbs to 14% for parents, 12% for Millennials and 15% for Millennials with children. With this nationwide initiative, Walmart is declaredly attempting to snag a piece of the pie that is currently going to Amazon and service apps like Instacart and Google Express.

Advertising Gets Onboard with the Blast From The Past Trend

Walmart isn't the first to do this, in fact, we've seen a "Retro Revolution" that touches both the retail and entertainment industry in recent years.

Just look at Netflix's Stranger Things for example. The hit show holds more than an interesting suspenseful sci-fi theme. It also carries huge doses of nostalgia to go with its 1980s setting. This is followed by a growing number of reboots of classic shows and films, such as Fuller House, Charmed, Dynasty, and Disney's live-action films.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this trend is that marketers and advertisers have begun realizing that using the familiar icons we grew up within a commercial creates an emotional connection with viewers, making it less about consumerism and more about building a relationship.

This emotional connection generates something extremely powerful when it comes to the way customers perceive and interact with your brand: memorability.

Memorable Marketing Stems from Customer-centricity

In a 2018 article for WARC, Sally Wu, Hamish McPharlin and Caitlin Harley write "there are two ways to ensure long-term memory encoding occurs through a piece of content: using intimate personal narratives or creating content that is personally relevant to the viewer.”

Memorability is perhaps the most valuable thing a marketer can instill in customers because it keeps the brand top-of-mind. But creating memorability requires a deep understanding of your consumer, and this requires a customer-centric mindset within the company and the marketing department.

 Check out 4 ways to create a customer centric culture

A customer-centric approach to marketing was the heart and soul of this campaign and secret to its success and virality. Walmart's team understood not only who their audience is, but what they want and need to make their everyday lives easier.

The Battle For the Millennial Shopper

Walmart definitely has its competition cut out. Amazon has long been crowned a generational favorite with a whopping 71% of millennials holding active Prime memberships. And if the almost cult-like worship millennials have for Amazon weren't enough, try adding the fact that they really dislike Walmart. They dislike its politics, its customer service, but most of all, they hate its in-store experience.

So, by taking the shopping experience out of the much-hated store and into the browser and curbside, Sam Walton's company is showing us that it's not going to back down from this fight.

Walmart CMO Barbara Messing claims the company's objective with the campaign is to "demonstrate the ease, speed, and convenience of the service – and that it’s for everyone, regardless of what car they drive," but to the viewers at home, it felt more like a shout out to an entire generation, as if to say "we get you, and we're here".

I hear you Walmart, and may even give Grocery Pickup a try.

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