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Target vs. Wal-Mart

Posted by: Aili McConnon on May 22, 2009

Call it a tale of two discounters. Target posted their earnings this week and while net sales were up 0.4%, it was not as impressive as Wal-Mart which saw its net sales increase by 3.8% for the first quarter.

It is interesting that these two giant discounters are moving in opposite directions at this point in the downturn. As my colleague Matt Boyle pointed out in his blog post Wal-Mart’s Upcale Shift, Wal-Mart is hoping to lure a more affluent consumer now and hopes they will stick around when the economy picks up.

Target in contrast stumbled this past fall because it had more discretionary merchandise than Wal-Mart. Target is now making a big push into essentials through initiatives such as expanding its supermarket division in the hopes of capturing a more value-oriented shopper.

Target is also taking a page from Wal-Mart with its new focus on moms. Target is launching a broadcast campaign with “real moms” who talk about the money they saved at Target. Wal-Mart has realized mom controls the family budget for some time. It sends products to moms like Tara Kuczykowski, a mother of five. Tara blogs about ways for moms to save money and if she likes a given Wal-Mart product she will review it on her site.

Who will win? Target or Wal-Mart?

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Reader Comments

Denise Lee Yohn

May 26, 2009 09:29 AM

it's too bad these two brands seem to be intent on copying each other vs. carving out differentiated positions from which to exercise leadership in the category.

time was, walmart was well-positioned to deliver "everyday low prices" while target, "affordable design" -- the recession seems to have prompted target to move target off its unique platform in an effort to increase its value perception.

in its response to consumers' new reality, i would have like to have seen more commitment to reinforcing/building what makes target special and compelling.


May 26, 2009 04:35 PM

I like Target much more than WalMart for many reasons two of which are:

WalMart’s always seem to get run down and not well maintained quickly, when the store is dirty I don’t like shopping there. Target is always clean and has a fresh smell as you walk in, this is a much more pleasant shopping environment.

Target’s employee’s are much friendlier then those at WalMart, possibly that will change if William Ackman gets in, or doesn’t get in, the fight alone may change the Target culture, but today my experiences have been much more customer satisfaction at Target’s.

I will pay a little more for a more pleasant experience with someone that’s actually helping and not just going through the motions of getting paid, for me Target will always win.

Ann Marie

June 2, 2009 09:14 AM

Although Target is upscaled in looks their prices do not compare to Walmart's. On an average we save 50.00n a week more shopping at Walmart.

As employees go and service, recently a Target cashier made a 12.00 mistake at check-out over ringing items.

Live in upscale south Florida, Target is basically slow everyday, all the time you can walk right up to the cashier and only two cashier are working vs Walmart which is packed with people and many cashier, although lines are long, they are doing the volume.

Bottom line, Costco is not pretty or trendy and people shop there. Walmart by far is the better economical fit for saving money on name brand foods. Isn't time we start comparing cost vs looks (this snobby mentality is what help get us into this economy), in this economy I think it matters how to save money. God knows the middle class needs all the help we can get.


December 10, 2009 01:55 PM

i like walmart better than target because target is sometimes dirty unorginized and it sometimes have only two people working at a regaster and the lines are very long i like target but not really walmart you can saave money target u spend moree...


January 10, 2010 05:21 PM

my walmart seems to think it's ok to resell products without informing the customer. So far we have returned a faulty wireless router and a Broken xbox 360. We knew that they were used when we tried to set them up and user names and passwords were already in place in,addition to not working correctly. When wee returned the router one of the employees said it was the third time it have been returned.

Two t.v that we purchased from there also had issues and we had to return those(we do not know if these were used though).

I feel that walmart should tell a customer about anything that could void the warranty of the product and offer a discount if the item is used. I don't think I'll be shopping there anymore.


March 2, 2010 02:23 AM

I have worked for both companies. and also shopped @ both stores.
target handsdown offers a better shopping/working enviroment. target is healthier for the consumer and employee.
target really takes into account all the lil things that are important. now if they would alter the traditional bright red. and use a more darker hue, like say a maroon then we would all be more happier.


March 18, 2010 11:49 AM

I have found Target to be cleaner, more organized, employee/consumer friendly. Prices vary. Some items are more affordable at Target and some are more affordable at WalMart. Target does not carry some of the items and brands I prefer. I shop at both and I am sure I will contine to do so. Thank You.

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How can you manage smarter? BusinessWeek writers Nanette Byrnes, Patricia O’Connell, Emily Thornton, Matthew Boyle, Michelle Conlin and Diane Brady synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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