More Monomaniacal Windbags Are Needed In Marketing
The Journalist's Creed

Is Wal-Mart's New Marketing Chief Following the Marketing Concept?

Ad Age reports that the new chief marketing officer at Wal-Mart is hiring a lot of new employees. The new spurt of growth in employees at Wal-Mart may mean bad news for investors in the future.  According to one former insider at Wal-Mart, “Why do you need all these people? You are going to start doing what everyone else does and pretty soon you are just going to be a worse Target, not a better Wal-Mart.”

I’ve always been interested in business and industry because I grew up in the Manchester region of the United Kingdom.  Growing up in Manchester I was told the area used to be the workshop of the world and the place where the industrial revolution started.  Based on this interest in industrial history I became interested in how organizations grow and become successful.  When I first started taking marketing classes I discovered the marketing concept.  The idea that companies figure out the needs and wants of their customers and satisfy them efficiently and profitably. The concept made sense to me because I buy products and it makes sense that a company would give me want I wanted in return for money.

When I read in the Ad Age article that up until a few years ago Wal-Mart only had 121 employees in the marketing department, yet the company is the largest corporation in the world it got me thinking that maybe the company should understand why it was so successful in the past?  It seems to be from reading articles and watching TV programs over the years Wal-Mart was successful because it concentrated on improving its business processes and providing the best shopping experience for its target customers.

If John Fleming is intending to focus his extra employees on spending more advertising or developing more creative, I don’t really think Wal-Mart will be more successful.  While advertising is certainly part of marketing, if you read the concept again you begin to understand marketing is really all about listening to your customers.  Either by talking with them or observing what products customers buy from you.

From the article I read that Mr. Fleming is hiring marketing people in the following departments, “he’s looking to build from scratch three new departments -- brand management, a category marketing group and an insight and customer strategy group.” That sounds to me as if Wal-Mart might be investing more resources in listening to their customers, if so we may see even more growth from the company, but if its more people for advertising, that ex-employee might be right.