Fortune’s interview with Stephen Quinn, Wal-Mart’s Chief Marketing Officer, discusses a new approach to ‘the customer’ at the world’s largest retailer. We continue to be struck by the strength and quality of managers in Wal-Mart’s organization.
A lot of retailers used to be defined by what they sold. More and more — and we’re certainly an example of this — retailers are defined by whom they serve and how they serve them. In our case, the people we serve are value-oriented. We’ve done a lot of segmentation studies and other work, and we’ve learned that there obviously are people who have to be on a budget, and Wal-Mart plays a critical role in helping them stretch their dollars.
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A lot of shopping is very habitual for customers, so if they stop thinking of us as a place for fishing, as an example, they may not even look over there anymore.
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First, it starts with the customer. You’ve got to be incredibly customer-focused nowadays because — it’s been said many times — the customer is in control. All the technology and the societal trends we’re seeing point to that control just growing and growing. Second, marketing ought to be active inside the organization at breaking bureaucracy and getting the company to serve customers, to do the things we need to do to be successful with the customer.