How Walmart is leaning into its one-stop shop appeal

Showing that back-to-school is for adults too is one way the retailer is playing up its increasingly vital convenience factor.


In myriad pandemic shopper surveys, Walmart frequently ranks as one of the most popular choices among Canadians across product categories and occasions. Part of this is the low prices at the forefront of its brand, but being top-of-mind for a one-stop shop has become even more important in recent months.

Tammy Sadinsky, VP of marketing at Walmart Canada, says that as Canada emerges from full lockdown, there are still fewer trips and larger baskets, with shoppers looking to keep trips short while still finding everything they need. “It’s important the one-stop shop benefit we offer is something that Canadians are reminded of,” Sadinsky says.

That was a major factor in the retailer’s back-to-school campaign, which aims to tell stories of multiple families through different shopping journeys, showing that Walmart has what all of them are looking for.

But the brand is also expanding the typical target demo for a “back-to-school” campaign, including a broader category of adults (with or without kids) who are re-imagining their work lives and searching for new opportunities to upgrade their skills. That’s not just based on anecdotal stories about people learning new hobbies in lockdown, but also longer-term insights Walmart gathered showing that nearly one in three Canadian adults have either applied to or are thinking about going back to school. The creative embodies this with a role-reversal, showing kids offering support to moms enrolling in engineering classes and dads considering nursing school.

Though it is relevant across seasons, Sadinsky says back-to-school is a specific example of how Walmart’s messaging has evolved to be relevant to all adults, who are closely examining their finances and considering career changes due to the realities of the pandemic. She says it had considered doing a regular 60-second back-to-school spot at first, but there is not a “one size fits all” approach this year, where it has so many shopping options and products to highlight.

“There are so many missions that customers go on during the back-to-school period, whether it be for apparel, food, electronics or stationary, and we realized it’s more than just kids doing that,” Sadinsky says, departing from an approach where the brand typically highlights only the most important of its customers’ missions.

In addition to showing it has products for every kind of person’s academic and professional aspirations, “For Everyone Going Back” also calls out other occasions, like grocery, where the retailer’s prices and convenience have been helping to take share away from major grocery retailers in recent years. It also acknowledges the different ways Walmart’s customers want to shop, including its grocery home delivery service, with cut-downs running digitally and through social highlighting online shopping, along with curbside and in-store pick-up options.

Sadinsky says Walmart has studied the surge in online shopping and supported it infrastructure-wise by adding more capacity to pickups and delivery. “We felt like it was relevant to let Canadians know we are a safe place to shop, no matter how you shop,” she adds.

At the end of the day, though, it’s about staying relevant and broad. Highlighting assortment and different demographics is one way to do that, but it also means low prices are still an important message to reinforce, regardless of channel or occasion, Sadinsky says.

Cossette handled the creative on the back-to-school campaign, with Mindshare on media.