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As is with any successful company Wal-Mart endeavors to understand its customers as well as the market. This is done by carrying out market research, integration of viable Marketing information systems as well as understanding the factors that affect customer purchasing decisions. Wal-Mart is a market leader and other stores have to learn from Wal-Mart (Chawkes, 2008). Marketing Research Wal-Mart is one of the biggest companies globally, being the largest employer world wide.

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In carrying out marketing research the company out sources by engaging the professional services of economists such as Global insight and research institutes, who run conferences attended by renowned economists, and independent professional research studies (Lochner, 2005). Marketing information systems. Wal-Mart organizes its marketing information systems (MIS) by the use of several components of MIS namely: information technology (IT) expertise and organizational structure, information management, application quality management, infrastructure (Arribas & Baldeon 2007).

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Wal-Mart’s customers’ purchasing decisions are subject to a decision making process that is influenced by socio-cultural, psychological and situational factors. Socio- cultural factors are; the customer’ social class, personal influence, family, reference groups, cultural and sub- cultural values. The psychological influences are; personality of the customer, lifestyle, perceptions, values, beliefs and attitude, and the motivation. Situational factors include; social surroundings, physical surroundings, antecedent state of the customer, and the purchase task.

Another factor that influences customer’s purchase decision is the marketing mix. This includes the price of the product/ service, the product itself, its promotion and the place of distribution (Individual decision making, 2006) Forecasting – Demand Measurement Forecasting is basically the prediction of the future. Forecasts mainly focus on the demand for a product or service, and are used as a point for planning and preparation to successfully and competently meet demand.

When working from a forecast, the objective is to predict the future demand for the company’s product in by considering the synchronizing events which are most likely to take place within the service providers in the supply chain (Russell & Taylor 2006, p7). Wal-Mart and the customer need to continuously share updated data in a strategy known as continuous replenishment. This strategy is supported by accurate forecasting which determines the inventory the company must have at particular points along its supply chain.

Continuous replenishment ensures the inventory is reduced as well as speeding deliveries to the customer (Russell & Taylor 2006, p8). Wal-Mart’s accurate forecasting ensures customer satisfaction and optimum utilization of resources. Good quality service is made possible by accurate forecasting which eases the process flow by eliminating defective items, and ensuring on-time supply of products. Buying Process and Decision Making

The buying process has five basic steps namely; problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, product choice, and lastly consumption and learning. Wal-Mart assists the customer in this process in that it stocks about 142,000 products in every Wal-Mart store (Chawkes, 2008). The aggressive advertising strategy adopted by Wal-Mart ensures the customer is able to make their decisions easily and shopping becomes an adventure for the customer (Chawkes, 2008).

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