Wal-Mart Eyes Changing Consumer: Scott

SAN ANTONIO — “Technology and social networks are driving equality — creating a more informed customer than ever — and it’s all happening at light speed,” Lee Scott, former Wal-Mart chief executive officer, said in a presentation here.

SAN ANTONIO — “Technology and social networks are driving equality — creating a more informed customer than ever — and it’s all happening at light speed,” Lee Scott, former Wal-Mart Stores [4] chief executive officer, said in a presentation here.

Wal-Mart’s strategy for success in this scenario hinges on looking to where customers will be instead of where they have been, said Scott, who addressed the American Bakers Association Convention here and was interviewed on stage by David Orgel, editor-in-chief of SN.

This strategy involves the global growth of a middle class in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, Russia and India, he said. It also involves refocusing on the ever-changing American consumer. It equates to being fast to act, nimble, willing to widen perspective, and willing to commit to change, he said.

Wal-Mart’s city-bound movement is evidence of this strategy, as uncharacteristically small store footprints of 20,000 square feet or smaller are planned to mine urban retail spaces in Chicago and Philadelphia. New York City has recently been a moving target evading Wal-Mart’s sites, but Scott said he doesn’t believe the market is a linchpin in its urban model’s success.

According to Scott, there has been greater change in retailing in this generation than in the last three or four combined, and the change is only going to accelerate.

Scott also carefully dismissed questions about a potential foray into politics, citing an unwillingness to be unauthentic, and quipping that if he were to run for president, he’d first “have to go back and relive parts of [his] life.”

SN’s sister publication Baking Management, also a unit of Penton Media, has been presenting an editor’s blog during the ABA event. The blog, written by Orgel and Matt Reynolds, Baking Management chief editor, can be viewed at this link: http://thebakingblog.com/category/american-bakers-association-2011/ [5].