One of the major challenges marketers faced during the covid -19 pandemic is to keep up pace with consumer trends and needs including preserving the big picture focus on the brand.
Walmart hasn’t been free of such pressures, which have led to a realignment of media strategy that could affect its outlook even after the health crisis abates. Changes to the brand’s experiential outreach started taking place early in the pandemic. In a sign that Walmart’s ambitious experiential strategy could play a larger part going forward, the company hired its first chief executive officer. Executives speaking at the MMA’s Impact conference talked up strong results for experiential activations on the same day the retailer announced hiring its first chief creative officer. To differentiate from the pack, Walmart centred its attention on owned channels it could leverage to connect with families cut off from their usual bond-building traditions. Working with experienced partner Camp and interactive video platform Eko, the brand converted its mobile app into a virtual summer camp parents could participate in with their kids. Then, in July, it started flipping parking lots at dozens of stores into drive-in movie venues as part of a national cinema tour put on with Tribeca Enterprises.
The free screenings, which promoted services relevant to the pandemic such as contactless curbside snack pickup, quickly booked up while also delivering on brand value. Walmart’s approach to paid media has evolved to be more utilitarian as a result of the health crisis. Before the pandemic, the company was sinking a heavy amount of resources into promoting fledging services like grocery deliveries and curbside pickup. Both took off virtually overnight with the introduction of stay-at-home orders and as people avoided in-store shopping — trends that brought a windfall for Walmart’s digital operations but new challenges for its marketing.