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Wal-Mart changes slogan, strategy

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KAI RYSSDAL: Let’s suppose you shop at Wal-Mart. Even if you don’t, work with me here for a second. Why do so many people shop there? Always low prices, right? That’s been the company’s tag line for 19 years. But our New York bureau chief Jill Barshay reports Wal-Mart’s decided it’s time for something new.

Jill Barshay: Wal-Mart’s plastic bags, receipts and TV ads now say, “Save More. Live Better.” If you think you’ve heard something like that before, you’re not going crazy.

Edward Weller is a Wal-Mart analyst at ThinkEquity Partners. He says Wal-Mart has a history of stealing good ideas from competitors.

Edward Weller: From the point of view of content and rhythm, it is surprisingly like the Target slogan which is “Expect More. Pay Less.”

Howard Davidowitz runs a retail consulting firm in New York. He says the new motto is designed to appeal to the growing sophistication of Wal-Mart’s core customers.

Howard Davidowitz: Low prices is good. But you don’t have the living better in it. And their advertising will focus on the living better, what you can do with the money.

Wal-Mart is having a hard time boosting revenue at its stores because competitors are cutting prices too. Weller at ThinkEquity Partners says now Wal-Mart wants to raise sales by selling more than just low-priced staples to its middle class customers.

Weller: As Wal Mart introduces higher quality, more fashionable, more rapidly changing apparel and housewares, they will be introducing things with more cost in them, and they will be higher priced.

It’s easy to be skeptical about corporate ad campaigns. Wal-Mart’s may be the most honest out there. If the company really wants to sell more upscale goods, then it won’t be able to offer always low prices all the time.

In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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