BENTONVILLE, Ark. — After nearly four hours of music, cheering, celebrity appearances and brief presentations by senior executives, Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke wrapped up the company’s annual shareholders’ extravaganza Friday morning by sharing five priorities associated with serving what he called the next generation of customers.
He touched on the company’s commitment to growth as priority one, with an adherence to the philosophy of every day low prices and every day low costs as the second priority. Further acceleration of efforts in the area of global e-commerce was mentioned third, followed by the need for talent as the fourth priority. Lastly, Duke said the fifth priority revolved around the concept of “live better” where Walmart leverages its size to make an impact on such pressing societal issues as hunger or sustainability.
“Our next generation customer will include millions who are striving to join the emerging global middle class. They’re from the countryside around Punjab, India and the blue collar suburbs of Sao Paulo, Brazil. They’re in the big cities, from the wards of Chicago to the boroughs of New York City. They’re connected to the world through smart phones and social media. They’re in charge of when they shop and how they shop. And believe me, they know who has the lowest prices,” Duke said. “They don’t want to have to choose between products they can afford and products that mean a better life, like sustainably grown local fruits and vegetables. They care about sustainability and like that we do too. They also have higher expectations for the role of business in solving problems. Only those businesses that solve problems will earn trust.”
Trust has long been a core element of Walmart’s value proposition and according to Duke it is what will drive the company ability to maintain growth worldwide and domestically. Doing so will require an unwavering commitment to, and the daily execution of, a strategy rooted in expense control.
“To deliver EDLP, to drive growth and really churn the productivity loop, we have to be an EDLC operator. Over the past couple of years you’ve done a great job quarter after quarter of leveraging expenses,” Duke told the approximately 15,000 people who attended the event a