Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Class War and Wal-Mart

For decades, Sam Walton's highly successful brainchild Wal-Mart has improved countless lives by offering a wide variety of goods at affordable prices. As the company's success grew, so did the propaganda against the company: they forced mom and pop shops out of business, they sold too many goods from overseas, they hire non-union employees, they offer limited employment benefits. But why hate a company that offers goods at prices that can't be met elsewhere? Doesn't saving money help the consumer? If it's so bad to work there, why do people apply and continue to work there?

Wal-Mart has always catered to folks with lower incomes, as seen in the "Always Low Prices. Always" slogan they used for years. Now, the slogan is "Save Money. Live Better," which along with its abandonment of its layaway program, seems to indicate a shift in marketing tactics. Ryan McMaken explores why people hate Wal-Mart, and notes that the shift in marketing could be motivated by political pressure in this interesting article:

It doesn't take a degree in marketing to see that Wal-Mart has an image problem among the chattering classes. Few corporations in recent decades have been subjected to more relentless criticism, disdain, and fevered condemnation than what is regularly heaped upon the Arkansas-based retail giant.

Wal-Mart has become the poster boy for everything that its opponents love to hate about the modern economy. From its use of nonunion labor to its "low" wages, to its marketing of inexpensive foreign goods, Wal-Mart is uniquely singled out as the most monstrous example of everything that is thought to be wrong with American society today.

Read the rest of Ryan McMaken's Wal-Mart article

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