Walmart's 3 Customers

After a series of marketing and merchandise blunders, Walmart is trying to turn around its falling profits by breaking down existing customers into three groups and refocusing on these shoppers, NYT reports.

The groups are:

Brand Aspirationals: people with low incomes obsessed with names like KitchenAid
Price-Sensitive Affluents: wealthier shoppers who love deals
Value-Price Shoppers: customers who like low prices and cannot afford much more.

See, you’re never too big to change, as long as you’re hemorrhaging dollars. — BEN POPKEN

It’s Not Only About Price at Wal-Mart [NYT] (Thanks to Phil!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. MeOhMy says:

    Seems like it’s still about price…it’s all about convincing a company like KitchenAid to allow Wal-Mart to source sweat-shop quality units that they can nameplate as a name brand so that they can sell it to all three “markets” for “bargain prices.”

  2. nffcnnr says:

    What category describes customers who love nazi t-shirts?

  3. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    KitchenAid = Whirlpool with about 70% more markup.

  4. mopar_man says:

    They forgot one type on consumer: those that hate Wal-Mart.

  5. missdona says:

    Dude. I love Kitchenaid. Love. I love my mixer and my giant red untensils.

    And my red silicone baking pans and red silicone potholders.

    And my red nonstick cookware.

    And my red dish drainer.

    I didn’t even know that Walmart sells Kitchenaid.

    I got most of my stuff at TJ Maxx/Homegoods (Same awesome Kitchenaid’ness lower prices) or as gifts.

  6. WindowSeat says:

    KitchenAid is one of the few products that deserves the hype it recieves. I think it’s safe to say that the two I have will last the rest of my life and unless WalMart takes the company down, like they do most of their suppliers I can expect KitchenAid will be around to fix the mixers if they ever break down.

  7. acambras says:


    Seeing as how TJX has done such a bang-up job with the credit card and DL info lately, I hope you paid cash.

  8. missdona says:


    Gah! I try not to think about it.

    And I love my [red spoon-tula]

  9. B says:

    If they only have three customers, no wonder they’re losing so much money.

  10. royal72 says:

    what about the “pro-nazi” shoppers?

  11. Pelagius says:

    Does the heavyset chainsmoking woman in Tweetybird sportswear fall under “aspirational” or “value-price”?

  12. kerry says:

    I have a KitchenAid mixer from about 1950 (it was my grandmother’s) that was working fine until last year, when suddenly it won’t go at anything but top speed. I have a feeling it’s fixable. Not sure they still make stuff with that quality.

  13. dieman says:

    Generally wal-mart asks a company to use XYZ crap-manufacturer in China or other country to make substandard products with their nameplate on it. Don’t believe this? Find the stories on why Toro products are not in Wal-Mart stores, but are in Home Depot (and those are the same products as you find at Neighborhood Hardware Store, etc)

  14. mopar_man says:

    Sounds like just a switch problem. I have to agree though. KitchenAid still makes good stuff but nothing today is made like it used to be.

  15. parliboy says:

    Reading all of the love about KitchenAid makes me wonder whether the KA items at Wal-Mart are of the same quality as you would find of that brand at other stores. After reading the story from a while back about Snapper turning down Wal-Mart business and what Levi was doing to stay in their stores, I get nervous and distrustful.

  16. Dustbunny says:

    Hmmm…seems like the “Price Sensitive Affluents” shop at Costco. I read somewhere that Costco shoppers have the highest average incomes of any chain store. And if they’re not there, they’re probably shopping at Target. I know Wal-Mart is trying to appeal to more affluent customers, but I don’t think it’s working.

  17. bearymore says:

    It looks like somebody did a little marketing research — these are very familiar looking market segments.

    The NYT article says that what the segments have in common is reliance on brands. I’ve got it, “Walmart — Brand Central”.

    Hmm — worked for the other guy — didn’t it???

  18. TPK says:

    It would be interesting to run a poll to see which of the three types of shoppers we are. I readily identify with one of the labels.

  19. Scuba Steve says:

    Having worked for an unnamed appliance manufacturer, I’ll chime up and say that Whirlpool makes three different versions of the same products.

    Roper, which generally has the bare minimum features, Whirlpool, which is a midrange for “affluent professionals”, and KitchenAid, which is for Kitchen aficionados, rich people in general, or chefs.

    KitchenAid has more features and generally has a better warranty coverage (you’d be surprised at what’s not covered after a year on your expensive dryer or fridge) on it.

    They offered me a KitchenAid toaster once at a employee price of 80 dollars, and their mixers cost almost as much as a PS3.

  20. WindowSeat says:

    @kerry: I’m willing to bet that if you call KitchenAid they’ll tell you that they can fix it.

  21. mopar_man says:

    their mixers cost almost as much as a PS3

    So if it lasts 10 or 20 years it wouldn’t be worth it? You’d sooner buy a $50 mixer many times over instead? I sure wouldn’t.

  22. Morton Fox says:

    I’m the fourth type of customer.

    Walmart carries some items like paw slippers, flokati rugs, and flokati pillows that Target and K-Mart don’t have. I go only for those special items when Walmart has them in stock.

  23. Kornkob says:

    @WindowSeat: I’ll second that. KitchenAid Mixers have earned the name ‘Kitchen Tractor’ for a reason: they are damn near indestructible and if they do wear out and fail are very fixable.

    With all the implements you can hook up to the things, there’s not much that you can’t make from raw materials with that thing.

  24. elljay says:

    Wow! So apparently Wally World has discovered something that has been around forever.

    Lower Class
    Middle Class and
    Upper Class

    I wonder how much their research think-tank spent to come to this stunning conclusion of shopper behaviour?

  25. MeOhMy says:

    As with anything else, only suckers pay full price. I got my KA for $140 shipped. In fact I saw the deal here on Consumerist (thanks, guys). That’s less than a Wii, let alone a PS3 :-) Sure, the same mixer would run you nearly $400 at Williams Sonoma, but that’s what you get for actually BUYING things at WS. Except, of course, if it’s on clearance at WS.

  26. chrismar says:

    I’m one of those that tries to avoid Wal-Mart at all cost. My wife, on the other hand, has no problem with the place.

    Secondly, I had no idea KitchenAid was owned by Whirlpool. Ya learn something new every day…

  27. marike says:

    KitchenAid mixers cannot be beat for their price and quality – you only need to buy 1 and it’ll last a lifetime. I have most of the attachments and accessories for it and the machine is worth every penny.

    The only thing that ticks me off about KA Mixers is that if you need to get a new 4.5q mixing bowl, the replacement 4.5q bowl have an awful handle.

    The same can’t be said about their choppers and a few other products, but KitchenAid is a good brand as a whole. I’ll admit to being skeptical about buying a KA product (or well, just about any appliance) from Wal-mart, especially if it’s specifically made just for Wal-mart.

  28. pronell says:

    I love the transparency here. “People tend to be brand conscious, so how can we sell them more stuff? By slapping brand names they like on steaming piles of feces, that’s how!”

  29. Phas3Sh1ft says:

    Didn’t know that “wealthy” people shopped at Wally World. I guess wealthy to them is middle class.

  30. br549 says:

    I think they’re missing the biggest category:

    People who don’t realize that shopping at Target gets about the same prices and doesn’t feel like you’ve walked into a junkyard when you come through the door.

    I know not all shopping has to be fun, but going to Wal-Mart is too depressing to be worth saving $0.20.

  31. countrylife4me says:

    What category are folks who do most of their shopping online? Why would anyone want to spend their valuable time fighting crowded, understaffed stores, trying to find parking, etc. when you can shop online, anytime of the day or night in the comfort of your home? Even with the shipping cost, I’ve been able to find many things cheaper online!

    As for groceries, I get those at the grocery store, the local meat or farmer’s market.

  32. sparkrainfire says:

    what about the customer who only shops at wal-mart to exploit the return policy, like that time my heat stopped working..

  33. raindog says:

    I don’t know about other parts of the country, but our Wal-Marts are way bigger than our Targets, and have the added benefit of being 24/7 unlike ANY other department store (all the 24-hour K-marts within a 30 mile radius having closed.)

    Wal-Mart does always leave me with a sick feeling after I’m done shopping there, but sometimes you just need to go shopping for Pringles and flash memory at 2am. In fact, I might do that tonight. I guess that makes me the fourth type of Wal-Mart customer, “Apathetic Burnout With The Munchies”.