Walmart, the retailer, is aiming to mix cultural and contextual relevance, providing inspiration and supporting a sense of community in its messaging as it responds to the rapid evolution of consumer needs.

Sarah Henry, director of strategic media partnerships at Walmart, discussed this subject during the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2020 Digital and Social-Media Conference, which was held online. (Read WARC's in-depth report: How customer insights help Walmart maintain relevance and build out e-commerce)

And from “a marketing perspective,” she explained, Walmart is responding to new consumer behaviours with four guardrails to keep its messaging in line.

The first is cultural relevance: “We’re constantly evaluating our marketing,” she said, “ and what our customers are seeing based on cultural relevance.”

That diligence leads to a series of questions that are asked over and over again: “Does this make sense in the market right now? Is this what my customers want? Is this going to help my customers? Is this what they need to hear?”

Inspiration is another critical consideration for the company. Under the current economic and cultural slowdown, Walmart is “really thinking beyond a product-focused message,” Henry said

“It's less about what they need to buy and more about the thing – the ‘spark’ – that's going to inspire them,” she continued. In doing so, Walmart feels it’s able “to make whatever they're planning feel that much more special.”

Community is a third guiding principle for the retailer, and it has noted that customers are thinking of others in a wide variety of ways. “Community is more important than ever,” said Henry.

On Walmart’s part, it is building programs centered around neighborhoods and service associates, with neighbors “helping each other out,” Henry said.

Even though “we’ve seen an interesting trend around the growing importance of proximity-based relationships,” she continued, there’s also been an uptick in discovering “how I can help my neighbors in my community and give back to something greater.”

The fourth consideration for Walmart is context, and it seeks to identify specific audience pockets “based on their contextual messaging and their intent signals,” Henry said.

To the retailer, the challenge is to “identify what's happening in our customers’ daily lives – whether that's meal planning, trying to figure out their new office setup, or juggling kids and family entertainment.”

Sourced from WARC