If you have watched any TV at all over the last year or so, you have likely seen Wal-Mart’s latest ad campaign, which puts an exclamation on them being the low-price leader. Typically, the commercial shows someone checking out their groceries with a check, and they are told how much they saved in direct comparison to another retail chain store selling the same merchandise. There are different theories on the effectiveness in bashing your competitors, especially directly, in advertising, but some competitors believe Wal-Mart has crossed a completely new line.
These competitors do not care that Wal-Mart is pushing their low prices across the airwaves to customers, nor do they really care about being Wal-Mart comparing the prices of the different stores on their ad. However, the main issue is that many of the competitors have come forward to say that Wal-Mart is not making fair comparisons.
In some cases, the competitors say that the prices Wal-Mart was advertising were on products that they had a very low stock of. As a result, people would have secured lower prices had they been there early enough, or if they were willing to wait for a new shipment to come in. Of course, by waiting, they likely could have received the same, if not a better deal, by shopping online.
A representative from Best Buy noted that Wal-Mart was claiming they had a Dell laptop for over $250 than Best Buy was selling it for. However, Best Buy said that the laptops were not the same model. Toys “R” Us went on to claim that Wal-Mart was falsely advertising prices in its holiday ads for items ranging from dolls to a scooter.
Wal-Mart’s spokesman, Steven Restivo, on the other hand, claims that, “we are confident on the legal, ethical and methodological standards associated with our price comparison ads.” This is a case that would certainly require a panel of legal experts who can do thorough research to decipher who is right or wrong on the topic.
Wal-Mart reported that sales and store visits were up by just over one percent since the ads began airing last spring. For such a small percentage increase, granted the actual number of people in the one percent would be fairly substantial, one would have to believe that Wal-Mart has done their homework before airing an ad of this nature.