Walmart Pushes 'Free' to Lure Customers Back

Walmart (WMT) is known for its old slogan of everyday low prices, though its current motto is "Save Money. Live Better." Now, it's moving toward "free" to draw customers into stores, using coupons, promotions and samples. The retail giant is leaning heavily on its website, Walmart.com, to promote the deals. Not a bad plan, given that online research firm ComScore listed Walmart.com as the 29th most visited site in the U.S. in May with 33.6 million unique visitors.

Though it's the world's largest retailer, Walmart needs to juice up its U.S. sales, which have been a glaring weakness in its quarterly results of late. In its most recently reported quarter, U.S. same-store results dropped 1.1% -- the eighth consecutive quarter in which they had fallen. Walmart's revenue growth is now driven mostly by international sales, particularly in China.

Walmart push into the coupon arena may be a reaction to the soaring popularity of Groupon, though Walmart's current coupon offerings are more prosaic, ranging from eye drops to Heinz 57 Sauce to Nudges Wholesome Dog Treats. Walmart even offers a PC download to help customers to print out the coupons.

Now, those coupons are free, but they don't reduce the prices of the products to zero. However, Walmart is using "free sample" programs to promote some items from the higher end of the product spectrum. One example: L'Oreal Gene Science Skincare. Walmart suggests that shoppers can "Try it before you buy it. Enjoy free samples of the newest brands and latest products." Walmart's elaborate shopper tracking system almost certainly drives which products it offers such samples for.

But Walmart's most wide-ranging "free" drive may involve its in-store events, a clever device to lure customers back to its big-box locations. Promoted via calendars online, the programs are coordinated across large numbers of stores. July's in-store promotions include a Maxwell House Coffee and Honey Nut Cheerios event, a Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt event, and a Dr Pepper Totinos event. Walmart clearly hopes that people who come to test drive (or is it taste-drive?) the soft drinks and pizza rolls will walk away with a couple boxes of Totinos or a case of Dr Pepper. At the very least, they'll be in the stores, doing some shopping.

U.S. consumers may just benefit from Walmart's woes: The retailer needs foot traffic, and it's willing to give a bit more to get it.



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rafrazier1

San Antonio.
When the local HEB Store have prices cheaper than Walmart; I will go where the prices are cheaper. This is no time for freebies that are really unnecessary. You need to go back to having cheaper prices than your rivals; and no higher prices. You were doing good until you started trying to keep up, and go over the other stores prices. HEB have good sales and give additional items for free when you but foods that you can use. Walmart is not giving away anything with a purchase and the price have gone above that of competing stores. Times are harder than ever; and one cannot eat free stuff you are giving away. Plus, in your advertisement booklets, on your sale items. The items are not on sale, the prices are the regular prices in the store. What kind of sale is that? Think about it. Your store in my area has been a bit lonely for people.

July 19 2011 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
caohellsux1978

Hi everyone! I got so tired of clicking on the link "Latest Financial News", and looking at stories that have been there over a month. Their top story has been there since January! And the stories that are actually current, you cant comment on them! I moved over to Yahoo. There pages are much, much better. You actually get current news, and you can even comment! What a novel idea!

July 12 2011 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Litsch

How about some good ol USA made items

July 11 2011 at 11:51 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
sah5151

Free samples?? That just means that they are making their suppliers pay for the promotions
that they want to do. Walmart does not pay anything for free samples, the manufacturers
do. All they are doing is taking advantage of the companys that they already have by the
short hairs. They say do this or we will by from someone else.

July 11 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
thagrus

i have taken my last walmart survey. My e- mail box have been stuffed ever since.

July 11 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ilm9p

If it weren't for the scum that shops there, and the scum that they hire, Wal-Mart wouldn't be so bad.

July 11 2011 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mmac

I won't shop there till over half of the manufactured goods say MADE IN AMERICA...so stay in China Wal-Mart (CHINA MART) and tax them as importers here....Replace them with products and a company that sells American Products......Wal-Mart did more than any company in the last 30 years to export our manufacturing industry.....They aren't American anymore....Traitor's, corporate traitors and there are already way too many of them.....let them sell to the people they pay less than 300 dollars a month to in China......They sold out America!.....So who cares. The Waltons need to move to China and live closer to their slaves and sweat shops on that side of the world..I do just fine shopping other places even at higher prices. I waste less money and time when I'm not running around a giant store picking up junk I never went into buy..

July 11 2011 at 7:58 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mmac

won't shop there till over half of the manufatured good say MADE IN AMERICA...so stay in China Walmart and tax them as importers here....Replace them with products and a company that sells American Products......Walmart did more than any company in the last 30 years to export our manufacturing industry.....They aren't American anymore....Traitor's, corporate traitors and there are already way too many of them.....

July 11 2011 at 7:52 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Cire Hartman

PEOPLE OF WALMART DOT COM .........................FOR THE WIN!!!!



I

July 11 2011 at 2:22 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
jasonkradioguy

Just try and goto one of those "scheduled events" that Walmart.com promotes. I had to shop anyway so decided to schedule it around a time there was supposed to be a "free ice cream social" - where they were giving out free sundaes topped with whipped creme. Webpage made it sound all nice so I brought the whole family. Now this was only at "participating locations" so I confirmed my local Walmart with date and time. Of course, there was no ice cream. No one in the store knew anything at all about it. They told me only participating locations. I pulled it up on my cellphone showing them the local WM and date and time. They all played dumb at typed things into their computers for more than 20 minutes in the customer service department until I finally just left. I thought for sure they'd at least offer me a coupon or something. Never again.

July 10 2011 at 4:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply