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塔吉特VS沃尔玛:个性可爱能生财

Shelley DuBois 2011年08月25日

对于很多美国零售商来说,如今市道艰难。但与其竞争对手沃尔玛相比,零售商塔吉特却似乎总能留住回头客,部分原因是因为它的确招人喜欢。

    熟悉折扣购物的人都对塔吉特(Target)和沃尔玛(Walmart)的差异了如指掌。

    塔吉特的货架上摆满了低成本的床罩、浴帘和色彩艳丽、样式时髦的服饰 。而沃尔玛则出售生活必需品:便宜的麦片、洗衣粉、散装肉和纸碟。

    事实上,塔吉特更有情趣,而沃尔玛则更廉价。通常,在经济低迷时期,沃尔玛“绝对实惠”的促销口号总能拨动消费者的心弦。但在本轮经济衰退期间,这样做并不足以刺激销售的增长。实际上,在过去9个季度中,沃尔玛在美国同店销售额始终呈现下降趋势。

    在上周二的财报电话会议上,沃尔玛首席执行官比尔•西蒙说:为了应对预算紧缩和粮食价格上涨,沃尔玛的顾客们如今都选择购买更便宜的品牌和小包装的产品。与沃尔玛不同,塔吉特的主要吸引力在于低价格与设计师品牌相结合。但在零售业前景如此黯淡的情况下,这样的品牌战略能行得通吗?

    显然,它取得了相当大的成功。 “塔吉特拥有这样的光环。它是个奇妙的购物场所,每个人都喜欢它。” 吉尔夫德证券公司(Gilford Securities)的零售业分析师伯纳德•索斯尼克说。

    塔吉特在美国的同店销售额有所增长,这一点值得自傲,但沃尔玛却不能。沃尔玛的利润大多来自海外扩张和削减成本,而不是零售投资者希望看到的国内销售增长。

    但是沃尔玛的利润却没有缩水。上周二,这家美国最大的公司宣布,公司2011年第二季度利润比去年同期增长5.7%,达到38亿美元。相比之下,塔吉特公司在同一时期的利润仅为7.04亿美元,增幅只有3.7%。

    尽管如此,只要经济衰退继续影响在沃尔玛购买廉价黄油和面包的低收入人群,沃尔玛也许就得继续为同店销售增长率而奋斗。

    光顾塔吉特的顾客中同样包括低收入人群。但塔吉特已采取措施,独辟蹊径。事实上,塔吉特最成功的品牌战略之一就是避免与沃尔玛直接对抗,而是在充满奇思妙想的设计密集型低成本零售空间内开拓自己的地盘,品牌顾问公司“品牌逻辑”(Brandlogic)的高级合伙人丹尼斯•赖尼称。

    以两家公司节约成本的举措为例。沃尔玛意识到汽油是客户最为关注的商品之一。因此,公司规定,顾客如果在6-9月使用沃尔玛信用卡购买汽油便可获得每加仑10美分的折扣,旨在替顾客分忧。这一举措的确为沃尔玛招徕了客源,但并未对美国市场销售的低迷带来明显改观。

    相反,塔吉特则试图以更多的现金优惠来吸引消费者。例如,凡使用其REDcard信用卡购物的顾客,无论购买何种商品,一律享有5%的折扣。然而,公司只为具备可靠信用记录的顾客办理这种信用卡,自然而然地排除了收入最低的人群。 此外,尽管REDcard有利于促进销售,但由于人们会利用它来购买更多打折产品,这些商品的销售利润率反而受到了影响。

    但这仍然不失为明智之举。“相比之下,稍稍降低利润率,并继续前进、不断创新,是一种更好的选择,” 第一全球证券(First Global securities)的分析师瑞提什•多希说。至少就目前而言,塔吉特的创新博得了具有购买力的消费者的欢心。

    另一方面,即便沃尔玛有意尝试改变其保守的价值观,也力不从心。2006年,公司聘请了靓丽的朱莉•罗翰出任首席营销官,试图提升自身形象。此举迅速引发了与公司传统企业文化之间的冲突,短短10个月以后罗翰就宣告离职。赖尼说,“她到任后做的第一件事,就是把整面墙都刷成了黄绿色,大家都吓了一跳。”

    但整个零售行业的销售数据都显示形势严峻,而就目前来说,有钱购物的人们似乎都被吸引到了颜色稍稍亮丽的购物场所。

    译者:聂传言

    Those of us familiar with discount shopping know the Target/Walmart duality well.

    Target stocks its shelves with low-cost bedspreads, shower curtains, and clothes with bright colors and funky designs. Walmart is for the necessities: cheap Cheerios, laundry detergent, bulk meat, paper plates.

    Truth is, Target comes across as more fun, and Walmart as more frugal. And typically, Walmart's all-value, no-nonsense message strikes a chord with consumers during tough economic times. But that hasn't been enough to boost sales growth during this downturn. In fact, Walmart's U.S. same-store sales have been on a decline for the past nine quarters.

    To cope with tighter budgets and increased food prices, Walmart (WMT) customers are buying cheaper brands and smaller packages of products, Walmart CEO Bill Simon said in an earnings call on Tuesday. Unlike Walmart, Target's (TGT) main appeal is a combination of low prices and designer brands. But can a fun brand strategy survive such a gloomy retail outlook?

    It goes a long way, apparently. "Target has this aura. It's a wonderful place to go into and shop and everybody loves Target," says Bernard Sosnick, a retail industry analyst with Gilford Securities.

    Target can also boast an improvement in its same-store sales in the U.S., while Walmart cannot. Walmart's profits have mostly come from overseas expansion and cost-cutting, not the kind of sales growth on home turf that retail investors like to see.

    Not to discount Walmart's profits. On Tuesday, the biggest company in America announced that profits for the second quarter of 2011 increased by 5.7% from last year to $3.8 billion. By comparison, Target's profits increased 3.7% to $704 million during the same time period.

    Still, Walmart will probably struggle with same-store sales growth as long as the recession continues to hurt low-income shoppers, the company's bread and butter consumer group.

    Low-income customers shop at Target too, but the company has taken steps to differentiate itself. In fact, one of its best branding strategies has been to keep from confronting Walmart head-on and, instead, carve out its territory in a whimsical, design-intensive, low-cost retail space, says Denis Riney, a senior partner at brand consultancy firm Brandlogic.

    Take the two companies' cost-savings efforts. Walmart learned that gas was one of the biggest concerns for customers. So the company tried to help them out by offering a 10-cent-per-gallon discount on gas bought with Walmart credit cards between June and September. It helped bring customers to Walmart stores, but couldn't significantly affect slow U.S. sales.

    Target, on the other hand, wants to appeal to consumers with more cash. For example, it started offering customers with its REDcard credit card a 5% discount on all purchases. Only those with solid credit are approved for the card, which often screens out the lowest-income consumers. The REDcard helped boost sales, but because people were using it to buy more products at discounted prices, the profit margin for those sales took a hit.

    Still, it's a sensible strategy. "It's better to take a slight hit on profit margins and keep on moving and inventing," says Ritesh Doshi, an analyst with First Global securities. And at least for now, Target is inventing in a way that appeals to consumers with money to spend.

    Walmart, on the other hand, can't stray from its conservative values even when it tries to. In 2006, the company hired a flashy new chief marketing officer Julie Roehm on staff to spruce up its image. Cultures clashed immediately, and Roehm only lasted 10 months at the job. "The first thing she did when she went down there was she painted a wall chartreuse, and everybody freaked out," Riney says.

    But numbers are grim across the retail sector, and for now, it seems like consumers with money to spend are drawn to a little color.

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