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Wal-Mart's Sustainability Index

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Inky_Wretch, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

  3. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member


    Wait ... what?
  4. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Goddamn. That's some good mixed movie metaphors right there.
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    What the hell is going on?
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Let them play! Let them play!
  7. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    The only green Wal-Mart cares about is money.

    Can you say "extortion?"

    Sheryl Crow can.
  8. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    True. And generally I would say fuck Wal-Mart and it's everyday disingenuous p.r. strategies. But while this is certainly as much p.r. as "save the planet," it does sound like the effort is a good idea that might have some value, so I'll wait and see how it plays out.
  9. ServeItUp

    ServeItUp Active Member

    Whenever someone tries to sell me on Wal-Mart's green initiative, I just look at small-town downtowns around the region. And I continue shopping at Target.
  10. Pastor

    Pastor Active Member

    I agree. My only question is how this is going to be paid for. My guess is that Wal-Mart will be looking at the manufacturers, like General Mills, to be paying for their own evaluation.
  11. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    From what I read about it, cost isn't a huge issue. It's just slapping something on the label that gives consumers some sort of metric. Yeah, General Mills (or anyone with a product selling @ Wal-Mart) will be responsible for the info that puts an index number on the label, but more than "how is this going to be paid for?" the question should be, "Who is going to audit the info?" The story said that Wal-Mart is going to ask 100,000 suppliers to provide details about their supply chains to come up with the info. Why should any consumer trust the index, when the info used to determine a score comes unaudited from the manufacturers?

    That is really only question number one, until I hear more. Another biggie is, I understand that this is good PR for Wal-Mart, which traditionally gets turned into a boogieman. So they are out in front on PR on something like this. But really, if you consider yourself green or a progressive, what is the end game here? So let's say Wal-Mart creates some kind of index and everything in their stores gets labeled with a sustainability score: Will consumers -- particularly the people who shop in Wal-Mart -- REALLY care? I mean, let's say there are two cans of food. One gets a better score than the other. But it costs 50 cents more. Is it REALLY going to change consumer behavior? I have my doubts. My best guess is that people who shop in Wal-Mart are price sensitive based on perceived quality. Will a higher sustainability score get people to buy products of equal quality that cost more? If that was the case, producers of goods would take notice and produce products that score better. But if consumers don't care? It won't change product offerings. Producers care about profit.

    Then, what will really be interesting is HOW they get producers to play along if they don't want to, or if it isn't in their interest to play. I bet if anything like this happens, you get a whole lot of labeling that says, "chose not to participate." And is that really going to keep consumers from buying something, if they think the quality and price are good? Yeah, you play along if you are certain that you have a product that will get a good sustainability score, and if that is the case, you try to milk it for marketing purposes. But what if you are afraid that the info you provide is going to get you a bad score or you don't know with any certainty if your competitor will get a slightly better score? In that case, I'd think it would be logical to choose not to participate. So you might see a whole lot of Coke-Pepsi selections on the shelves that just choose not to play -- at least the way this is being described right now.
  12. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Ragu, producers will pay. Because Wal-Mart will tell them if they want shelf space, or desirable shelf space, they will pay.

    I see this (like the move to support an employer mandate for health care) as one part PR move, one part self-protection. I think Wal-Mart has read the political winds and wants to get out front on some issues, having some say before change is forced upon them. But I think Wal-Mart also knows that if it wants to stay large and in charge, customers needs to be engaged with it beyond low prices, which is a pretty strong point to start with. Wal-Mart's biggest weakness is that people don't feel good about shopping there, and these initiatives go some ways toward fighting that (though its latest attempt to build on a Civil War battlefield can help undo it.) And now is a good time to do it, too, because with the economy as it is it's getting some people who had previously never shopped there. Wal-Mart would like them to stick around once things get better.

    Of course, there is competitive self-interest. By supporting an employer mandate on health care, Wal-Mart ensures its competitors will have to keep offering it. By supporting this "green" initiative, Wal-Mart will be able to sell itself as more earth-friendly (just as everyone else does) and provide real-world results to any Congressperson on what consumers REALLY believe about going green. If people take that into account in their purchasing decisions, great for Wal-Mart. If they don't, it's still great -- because then it can tell the world that people don't care, so don't impose any environmental regulation on us that the populace isn't also willing to shoulder.

    The Republican Party should really study what Wal-Mart is doing. Wal-Mart's essential brand and appeal is not changing, but it's tweaking it enough to make sure that some upstart doesn't come in and steal its thunder -- and business.
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