Online Exclusives

Women and Walmart

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | May 28, 2010

The Benchmarking Company�s in-depth survey uncovers how women feel about the retailing giant and why or why not they purchase their cosmetics at Walmart. The results may change your attitude about Walmart.

Walmart. The name is a lightening rod for many consumers. Some decry it as the Angel of Death for Downtown America. Others insist that it’s been a Mecca of Value during the Great Recession. Love it or hate it, Walmart is rapidly becoming a major player in the beauty sector, which is the reason why The Benchmarking Company (TBC) undertook a massive survey to understand women’s relationships with Walmart and how these relationships are impacting the beauty business.

Through a survey of 2,300 women ages 18-60-plus, TBC uncovered the internal and external forces that are driving women to shop at Walmart and how this shift in shopping behavior is impacting the beauty industry.

“One hundred and fifty million people a week shop at Walmart,” observed Alisa Marie Beyer, president, Washington, D.C. “That has a big impact on the beauty industry.”

At the same time, according to Beyer, the beauty industry is at a unique point in its history to break the reality of how it distributes products.


“The channels have become so blurred that a lot of realities and truths have become outdated,” she added.

And one of those outdated truths is that women prefer not to buy their cosmetics in Walmart. As proof of that, Beyer noted the success of Hard Candy in stores.

At the same time, the lengthy recession has created a consumer who actively seeks value and, more often than not, that means a trip to Walmart. Moreover, the statistics show that 90% of Americans live within 15 miles of Walmart, which may explain why 91% of respondents said they shop at Walmart, and 50% of them shop there on a weekly basis, according to the TBC survey.
 

What’s more, 90% of women enjoy shopping at Walmart. In fact, 70% of women tell others they shop there, and 22% tell others they shop there because they look smart for buying name brands at lower prices. Plus, after she’s finished shopping at Walmart, the top three things a shopper typically feels are:
• Satisfied (49%);
• Positive (37%) and
• Happy (34%)

No wonder then that 75% of women have been shopping at Walmart for five or more years and 50% of survey respondents have shopped there for 10 or more years. Perhaps most importantly to the cosmetics industry, 51% of women have always purchased their beauty and personal care products at Walmart, according to TBC.

Not Every Consumer is Seeing Green

While much of the TBC study is focused on Walmart, Alisa Beyer and her team also surveyed women’s opinions about natural products. While the press and environmental groups extol the virtues of “green,” many consumers have yet to embrace these products. According to TBC, 70% of women won’t spend more money on natural/organic beauty and personal care products, and 67% don’t believe that a natural/organic product will work better. In addition, 62% of women say that they rarely or never purchase organic beauty/personal care products at Walmart.

The study also revealed consumer skepticism regarding national versus store brands. According to TBC, 68% of women wonder if national brands warrant a higher price tag. If she does buy generic, it’s because she thinks it is just as good as higher priced name brands (53%) and because of the lower price (53%). What’s more, in the past year, 20% of women traded down on most of their beauty and personal care products!
And what are the top personal care categories for the retail powerhouse? Hair care and styling products and personal cleanling products such as soaps and deodorants led the way, with 72% of respondents making those purchases at Walmart. Oral care products such as mouthwash and toothpaste were next at 69%. The top personal care brands that she buys at Walmart include Dove (45%), Suave (42%) and Olay (39%). The top skin and color beauty brands she’s purchasing at Walmart include CoverGirl (48%), Olay (46%) and Maybelline (44%).

Yet, despite Walmart’s popularity, not every personal care and cosmetics company is eager to do business in Bentonville. Beyer warns laggards that they may be left on the outside looking in if they don’t embrace the new relationship that Walmart enjoys with U.S. consumers.

“There’s been a paradigm shift. [(the consumer] will never be the same. We expect value from everything we put in our cart,” explained Beyer. “We are changed as a country for at least the next five years. (Today) we buy things with long-term value.”

More info: www.benchmarkingco.com


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