Consumer Insights · Media Strategy · Brand Planning | Los Angeles, CA

Walmart Goes Local…for TV Buying

It’s hard to be less local than Walmart, as brick & mortar retailers go. It is a monument to economies of scale, sourcing products from all over to lower costs, and thus prices. Because of that, it eats local, and even regional businesses that just can’t throw their weight around in the same way. As it’s grown, it’s used national TV advertising to build its brand on a scale many competitors could not. According to AdAge, however, it seems that trend is reversing in one case.

Because the grocery business is highly localized, Walmart has chosen to buy spot TV (local ads), which put its grocery prices head to head against another area chains. Apologies for the low quality.

Appearing in 60 markets, the spots require a lot of resources to produce, as separate ads must be made in each market. But who better to finance such a giant venture than Walmart. Grocery is a specialized segment that requires specialized ad tactics, but it makes me wonder if other national players might not see the wisdom in going local as well, in some cases.

According to Broadcasting & Cable, national TV is not necessarily more cost effective than spot, and in many cases, the opposite is true. It is also true that the rise of  mobile has opened up a variety of opportunities for creating new local services. From car sharing to bridging local and eCommerce, there is a budding trend of brands with national reach, but local focus. The internet-mediated nature of these businesses means that much of their advertising is currently confined to digital, but sooner or later, some traditional TV may follow. It will be interesting to see if this resurgence in (quasi)local can fuel an increase in spot TV buys as well.

In the meantime, I’ll see you at Wally World.

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