Walmart reinforces commitment to customers and community

Being an essential business means the retailer is staying open, but also has numerous consumer concerns to address.
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Walmart Canada wants its customers, employees and partners to know that, as an essential business, it’s there for them during these trying times.

As it sells food and other products that remain in demand during the pandemic, Walmart Canada is among the businesses deemed “essential” in most provinces, though like many others, it has had to undertake a “tremendous number of operational changes,” says Tammy Sadinsky, VP of marketing communications at Walmart Canada, in order to stay open in a way that is safe for employees and customers.

Those include increased in-store cleaning, plexi-glass barriers at cash registers and pharmacy desks, mapping out physical distancing parameters through marked flooring throughout its stores, as well as dedicated shopping hours for seniors, those with disabilities and vulnerable health conditions. Last month, Walmart Canada announced plans to hire 10,000 new store associates to help handle the increased work of maintaining these measures, as well as handle increased demand for delivery and click-and-collect.

But with consumers facing stress related to their financial well-being and persistent concerns about products being in stock, Walmart had other customer concerns to address in a new campaign it has launched now that its role in the pandemic has become more clear. In the lead spot, the company makes it clear that “it’s far from business as usual,” as it shows shots of empty store aisles, stocked shelves and empty streets. It then reinforces its  “commitment to” its customers, highlighting its “hard-working associates” that are helping to keep anyone in its stores safe, but also that it will always keep its prices low and shelves stocked.

“It was very important that we made sure people knew we were doing the best we could to keep our shelves stocked with the items our customers need right now, and to reinforce that these items are at the everyday low prices they can count on,” Sadinsky says. “That’s on top of it being really important to make sure that associates and customers knew their wellbeing was critical.”

Though the tone is somewhat more somber in acknowledgement of the concerns its customers are facing, the approach fits with much of Walmart Canada’s messaging, which Sadinsky says always has the customer “at its heart” and letting them know the retailer helps them save money so they can live better, even in times like these.

Walmart is also emphasizing its commitment to charitable organizations and highlighting its increase in funding to local food banks and the Canadian Red Cross. According to Walmart Canada’s website, it has been providing relief to families and communities in need during times of disaster through the Red Cross, since 2003, from money collected through Walmart Canada’s annual campaign.

Sadinsky notes that Walmart Canada is highlighting these three particular stakeholders in the campaign – customers, associates and charitable organizations – because the company is “a part of the fabric” of their lives.

“We have a very important role to play to help support all of these three stakeholder groups,” Sadinsky says. “We felt it was very important that all of these groups know our commitment to them.”

The spots, which were produced in five days using pre-existing footage, have been airing nationally on TV, digital and social media platforms, and will continue to do so until mid-May. Walmart Canada AOR Cossette led the campaign.