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    Surge in Openings Bolsters Wal-Mart's Segmentation Scheme

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday it¿s opening a record number of stores across the country this month, in markets that range from large cities to small towns. The retailer also reaffirmed its commitment to neighborhood marketing via segmentation, which tailors individual store merchandising plans for one of six specific demographic groups -- African-Americans, the affluent, empty-nesters, Hispanics, suburbanites, or rural residents.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday it’s opening a record number of stores across the country this month, in markets that range from large cities to small towns. The retailer also reaffirmed its commitment to neighborhood marketing via segmentation, which tailors individual store merchandising plans for one of six specific demographic groups -- African-Americans, the affluent, empty-nesters, Hispanics, suburbanites, or rural residents.

    The retailer said the new stores are two Neighborhood Markets, five Wal-Mart discount stores, and 63 Wal-Mart Supercenters, 22 of which are expansions from conventional units.

    "While there is still more we can and will do, our goal is to better meet the diverse, unique needs of individual communities,” said Santiago Roces, s.v.p., store innovation and format development at Wal-Mart, in a statement. “For example, we can take what we have learned through our experience in stores in Mexico and Central America to share a product mix of trends in the Hispanic communities in the U.S. We're also going to great lengths to understand the wants and needs of customers in specific regions."

    The company said that among its grand openings in January are new and different layouts, as well as new merchandising touches. They include:

    -- Chamblee, Ga. (Atlanta area) -- This non-traditional Wal-Mart layout reflects the industrial design of the district's buildings in an urban setting with Georgian-style columns to blend with local architecture. More than 200 feet of product offerings feature Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian, European, and kosher products to accommodate the international mix of the community.

    -- Austin, Texas -- Wal-Mart said it worked with local leaders in the design and development of the store, respecting the nearby natural wildlife habitats. It designed the Supercenter's exterior with the Hill Country in mind, using brick and an earth tone color palette complemented by locally quarried Austin stone. The landscaping uses native plants and includes an abundance of wildflowers as a tribute to former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

    -- Villages, Fla. -- The new store, near many retired residents and senior citizens, offers a hearing center, vision center, drive-through pharmacy, and fresh produce; and is golf cart-accessible. To beautify the property, Wal-Mart added more than 33,000 plants in its outdoor landscaping with an exterior facade designed to look like multiple store fronts.

    -- Black River Falls, Wis. -- The new site offers hitching posts at the entrance, for the horse and buggies of its Amish customers.

    -- Phoenix – A new Supercenter here aims a percentage of merchandise and food products at Hispanic customers, including a large selection of Hispanic items in the grocery section such as fresh tortillas, bulk beans, and rice. Throughout the store, bilingual signage lines the aisles.

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