Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Bimodal Attitude World of Wal-Mart

Numerous surveys have shown that Wal-Mart is the most hated and the most loved company in America.

Some people love Wal-Mart for their cheap prices. Some people hate them for their corporate politics and harsh treatment of employees.

For the advertising practitioner, this split opinion provides an interesting dilemma: how do you keep your "base" happy while courting your detractors?

I offer no solutions here, but I do have what I believe to be an interesting observation.

We ran an experiment this year where we collected physiological responses to advertising brands. Although we're still hard at work analyzing the physiological data, I have peeked at the self-report data.

After we recorded physiological responses to each brand, we asked participants several questions about the brand. Most of these question dealt with how positive or how negative their attitudes were toward the brand.

The histogram shows attitudes toward Wal-Mart for the 54 experimental participants. This is the average of 6 attitude-related questions, and the scales range from 1 to 7. Here 7 would represent the most positive attitude possible.

As you can see from the superimposed normal curve, these data are not normally distributed. Instead they appear to be bimodal. That is, they appear to have two most-frequent responses. Just as surveys suggest, we appear to have a group that loves Wal-Mart, and we appear to have a group that hates Wal-Mart.

In West Texas, the pro-Wal-Mart crowd appears larger, but these data are hardly representative. They are from a convenience sample used for an experiment. Nonetheless, I still find it interesting that the split-attitude trends appears present even with the small non-representative sample.

See our (small non-representative sample) most-loved and least-loved brands here.

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