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Walmart returns to form with pricing campaign

BY Gail Hoffer

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is looking to distinguish itself from the competition.

The retailer announced that it is reinvigorating its price leadership promise, bringing back products its customers have asked for and simplifying its ad match policy.

"Walmart’s reputation was founded on the principle of providing low prices day-in and day-out on the broadest assortment of merchandise," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S. "Our company is determined to create the best one-stop shopping experience and low prices on the right products backed by a clear, consistent ad match policy."

In order to provide the best value to its customers, Walmart said its store managers and product buyers are checking the competition more often to help ensure its stores offer lower prices on the right mix of items. In addition, Walmart said it will work more closely with suppliers to lower the cost per item and pass those savings on to customers.

Walmart also has simplified its ad match policy by no longer requiring customers to bring in a competitor’s advertisement. If customers find a lower advertised price, Walmart said it will match it at the register. To ensure this policy is enforced, Walmart has implemented additional training for associates.

The company is looking to appeal to more customers by broadening product assortment by approximately 8,500 items or 11% in an average store. According to Walmart, these assortment changes will bring back customers’ favorite local food and consumables, among other products. Additions to dry grocery aisles have been in progress, the company said, and over the next few months, new products to fresh grocery and consumables will be added, and general merchandise categories will expand later this year.

Walmart said it will help customers identify these items with new "It’s Back" flags on store shelves later this month. In addition, the company is launching a national television advertising campaign, which Walmart said will help customers better understand its low-price promise and ad match guarantee on the widest assortment of products.

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P&G Future Friendly teams up with Recyclebank

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — In an effort to reward those that take everyday conservation actions, Procter & Gamble’s Future Friendly program has announced a national partnership with Recyclebank.

The announcement follows a successful collaboration between P&G Future Friendly and Recyclebank’s Cincinnati division, which enhanced the city’s recycling efforts.

How it works: Recyclebank motivates consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles by allowing them to earn Recyclebank points for increasing household recycling and reducing home energy usage. The points — which accrue as these efforts are increased — are redeemable for discounts and deals from more than 3,000 local and national businesses, P&G said. Additionally, Future Friendly also will provide Recyclebank members with opportunities to earn points through online educational content via the Recyclebank Learn & Earn platform, highlighting methods to save energy, save water and reduce waste within their homes.

"P&G’s Future Friendly is based on the premise that if we all take small steps together, we can collectively create a meaningful, measurable benefit for the environment," said Kirk Perry, VP North America for P&G. "The Recyclebank partnership’s dual focus on educating the public and rewarding consumers for improving their environmental performance is a natural fit for Future Friendly’s core mission."

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Consumers prepared to slow spending

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed by Deloitte said higher prices could slow their spending in the upcoming months.

The newest survey of 1,050 consumers found that 74% of consumers believed higher prices could curb their spending, with 7-out-of-10 (71%) concerned about rising energy prices and nearly half (47%) attributing reduced spending to higher medical costs.

With this, many consumers have turned to mobile and social media connections to help with their buying decisions. For example, 27% of consumers surveyed said stores are offering more value for their money, down from nearly half (45%) of consumers who said so at this time last year. This has prompted about 60% of respondents to search more online to get the best product or price. Among survey respondents who own a Web-enabled smartphone (32%), Deloitte found that:

  • More than 4-out-of-10 consumers (43%) said they have used it specifically in a store to assist in their shopping; and

  • 37% of consumers wanted to use their phones while in a store but couldn’t because of connectivity issues.

Deloitte noted that 40% of all consumers surveyed interact with retailers through social networking sites to find out about promotions, browse products or review recommendations.

Deloitte also discovered that the younger generations more likely will turn to their mobile devices and social networks to assist with their shopping:

  • Among survey respondents that are at least 45 years old, 56% said they search more online to find the best product or price;

  • More than one-quarter (29%) of respondents at least 45 years old connected with retailers via social networking sites;

  • One-third (31%) of consumers surveyed under the age of 45 years expected their favorite retailers to provide them with access to information through applications, social media or mobile alerts; and

  • 1-out-of-6 (17%) respondents ages 45 years or older expected retailers to do so.

"The recession has redefined the consumer’s relationship with retailers, and social and mobile applications have accelerated this change," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail sector leader at Deloitte. "Consumers are making more deliberate, informed decisions using a variety of tools and data. This presents a challenge and an opportunity for retailers to enhance both the in-store and online experience — knitting those together in a compelling way to build shopper loyalty."

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