As Wal-Mart (WMT) eats up tax rebate checks and thrives as consumers trade-down to cheaper goods, CEO Lee Scott spoke about being a leader, not a follower. General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) take note (Reuters):
“The world changed. People’s expectations of us — and of corporations in general — changed. And we found ourselves playing catch up. We can never let that happen again,” Scott said.
“Not only must we never fall behind, we must always push ourselves to stay ahead. We must continue to ask fundamental questions that alter perspectives and ultimately behaviour.”
“There are very clear trends that the retail industry and the world will have to confront — the ageing of the global population, the multipolar balance of power, income inequity, the disruptive power of technology, and the increased demand for energy, to name a few,” he said.
Talks of “friendlier” and cleaner stores were also music to our ears.
Wal-Mart’s low prices will always be compelling to consumers, but anticipating what consumers will demand in the future (such as a better store experience) is the key. If you’re complacent with the fat profits of today, you can lose out on tomorrow. Ask GM how that turned out.