About a year ago Wal-Mart made headlines in the Brazilian and international press – the supermarket chain had announced the closure of 60 stores in Brazil and their sales were (and still are) on the way down. I even wrote an article here about that.
In Brazil, Wal-Mart’s main problem was their lack of brand positioning – it didn’t appeal to the new middle-class and it was too expensive for the poor. On top of that, an over-optimistic store expansion made Wal-Mart open more stores than customer demand.
That was a rapid rise and it has been a long and painful fall. But it seems that Wall-Mart have pick itself up and are going through a total re-branding, that started more or less a year ago.
In the beginning of 2016, Wal-Mart appointed Flavio Cotini, then VP of Finance, to become the new CEO of Wal-Mart in Brazil. Investing R$ 1bn (USD $ 315 million), the process of brand revitalization had began.
And it began with listening to its consumers. Wal-Mart did a lot of consumer research to try to find out and to try to understand what their key customers wanted. In the age of customer we live now, I think it was a good start.
The second step was to “shrink” the umbrella of brands under Wal-Mart. To maximize their expansion Wal-Mart used to buy other local supermarket chains but never converted then to the Wal-Mart brand. A good example was the local supermarket chain BIG, mainly present in the South of Brazil. Now, all the BIG stores will be transformed to Wal-Mart stores.
But it wasn’t just a simple change of branding. The store lay-outs have changed alongside with a better mix of products. According to Wal-Mart, the stores going through the make-over will have wider corridors and brighter better lighting. They are also investing on a better quality for its fresh produce.
I would be good to see if Wal-Mart can pull this through. Even though Brazil has lost its economic momentum, the country still has a lot of potential. Maybe a year from now, I will be writing another article about that.
Photo credit: Wal-Mart