Regional adaptation of multinationals – Wal-Mart's Quebec case study

Serge Lafrance
Leger Marketing, Canada

Yanik Deschênes
Corporate Affairs, Wal-Mart, Canada

Terence Flynn
DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Canada

INTRODUCTION

Wal-Mart: Public Opinion on the Upswing in Québec

Since 2001, Wal-Mart's brand image has experienced significant variations in Québec. In 2004, the company's brand image was at 71% and it dropped to 11% in 2006 (see Figure 1). The Company became the one with the most negative media coverage in the province and its traffic, sales and profits plummeted seriously. This drop can mainly be explained by the labour conflict which was extensively covered in America and the rest of the world, and which culminated in a store closure in Jonquière, Québec (Canada). Store employees would have liked to become union members. This did not occur. The purpose here is not to determine or to discuss who is responsible for the outcome of the negotiations, be it the company or the union. What can in actual fact be ascertained, however, is a deterioration of Wal-Mart's image in Quebec following these negotiations. There is no doubt that poor public opinion generally has a negative impact on business. In fact, one-third (33%) of Quebecers surveyed by Leger Marketing admit that their shopping habits are influenced by other people's opinion of the stores they frequent.