Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dearborn Wal-Mart Tweaks Store for Arabs

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Faten Saad knew she wasn't in a typical Wal-Mart when she saw an end-of-the-aisle display featuring Mamool.

Boxes of the date-filled, whole wheat cookie from the Middle East welcomed the 21-year-old Lebanon native into the international aisle of the new Wal-Mart store in this Detroit suburb known as the capital of Arab America. Aisle 3, which also features Eastern European and Hispanic food, represents many of the 550 items geared toward Arab-American shoppers in the store that opened last week.

It might be statistically tiny in a store with more than 150,000 items, but it's symbolically huge for the world's largest retailer as it seeks to change from a cost-is-everything monolith to one that customizes its stores to meet neighborhood needs.

The Dearborn store also sells Arabic music and plans to offer Muslim greeting cards. But the modifications go beyond merchandise: It has 35 employees who speak Arabic -- noted in Arabic script on their badges. The store also has hired a local Arab-American educator to teach the staff cultural sensitivity.

The Dearborn Wal-Mart is part of a two-year-old corporate effort to help sales by tailoring stores to local demographics, said spokeswoman Amy Wyatt-Moore at Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. It targeted six groups: Hispanics, blacks, empty-nesters/boomers, affluent, suburban and rural shoppers.

Comment: The "invisible hand" at work.


At 3/15/2008 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I bet the unionbusting jets will still come no matter what the spoken language, or the surrounding community - should the relevant objection be raised.

The issue, is where would they find people to flood these "customized communities" in order to stack any vote?

At 3/15/2008 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are just getting ready for the future owners of this country, 130 dollar oil coming at you.

At 3/16/2008 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon. 8:55

The basis of modern marketing is that the customer determines the nature of the business. The customer rewards businesses who provide products that meet his/her needs.

Peter Drucker described this concept over 50 years ago in his landmark treatise, The Practice of Management.

The present run up in the price of oil is a temporary phenomenon. What we do know of commodity spikes, is that they don't last forever.


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