Clutter Busters?

March 21, 2009

Originally posted on 3.18.2009

Rob Walker pointed out a interesting AdWeek article today that mentions Wal-Mart’s upcoming in-store video display system which they are claiming will help REDUCE advertisement clutter and offer a more seamless shopping experience…

Stephen Quinn, CMO of Wal-Mart Stores U.S., says that the only clutter-proof medium he’s aware of is the one that the company created itself, the Walmart Smart Network….When it’s fully rolled out next year, it will include some 27,000 in-store video screens in 2,700 stores. The content includes both infomercials and advertisements from Wal-Mart suppliers, and the schedules are customized to individual stores and shopping occasions.

Perhaps I don’t fully understand how Wal-Mart envisions this program working, but it sounds more like a clutter-MULTIPLIER than any sort of simplifier. Do they really think this will enhance their customer’s in-store experience? Customers are already surrounded by thousands of products vying for their attention, and Wal-Mart thinks adding video screens that bark out offers while they stroll down the aisles will reduce clutter?!

As Walker mentions, Wal-Mart is clearly very excited about the ability to eliminate “non-Wal-Mart sactioned” brands, but they are completely neglecting how this will affect the Wal-Mart brand experience. Sure, this may be an attractive opportunity for many of the brands housed inside Wal-Mart, but I suspect, in the long term, everyone’s brand will end up suffering from such a short-sighted strategy.

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