Yes, we've pounded on Walmart for a long time. However, we made several posts in the latter half of 2011 noting positive changes in Walmart’s marketing strategy and management team. It’s time to put our money where our blog is.
Virtual money, at least.
The Lairig Marketing Index, resurrected in mid-February, is a faux portfolio of companies we believe have advantageous marketing strategies. The LMI contains Buffalo Wild Wings, Monro Muffler, LivePerson, and Harley-Davidson. In a little over a month, the index is up 4%, ahead of the S&P 500’s 3.3% [pretty good, considering MNRO is down 10%, due to a slow Q3].
Why add Walmart?
Walmart seems to have found a new groove. It has found new management, too, as we’ve reported twice – more digital experts and more forward-looking merchandisers. Inventory has been reset. Same-store sales are finally on a positive trend. Plus two “future” considerations.
Stream ’Em If You Got ‘Em
Walmart has joined a partnership of film studios in launching a “cloud” service for movies, with the horrible name of UltraViolet. Customers can have all the DVDs and Blu-Rays they’ve purchased, as well as new movie purchases, put in the cloud. They can then easily stream the content to their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. (They can also stream to their TV, but what would be the point?).
[Technically it is not a cloud, since a user’s content isn’t stored as such – instead, each user is authenticated to get streaming access to what they “own.”]
The rub? It will cost an extra couple of bucks per movie. The idea being you pay one time, rather than monthly, as per Netflix.
Walmart will launch this service mid-April. UltraViolet is a big, big test. Can it get consumers to (a) understand the offering, and (b) sense that it is a good value?
It’s The Economy, Stupid
UltraViolet aside, Walmart got the bugs out of its operations just in time for the once-again-slumping economy. We said at the beginning of October that the U.S. would revisit recession territory, and we’ll discuss it more next week. Coincidence or not, WMT’s stock price started a climb of 20% from October through late February.
So, into the LMI goes WMT, $1000 worth at this morning’s opening price.