Walmart Needs to Go Back to Social-Media School

New Data Show Little Love for the Big Box on the Web

By Published on .

I had a conversation yesterday with someone in new business development for a major agency. We discussed the balance between knowledge of demographics and knowledge of sentiment. The theory goes like this: across a demographic you'll find a mix of lovers and haters of your brand. If you can find the ones who love it a) you can try to create a profile of them and b) regardless, you have found great target groups based not on age or income but what they think about you. That's powerful stuff. Used to be that was hard to come by but now consumers are blathering on and on about your brand in publicly-scrapable ways. How convenient for researchers.

Mountain View, Calif.-based NetBase tomorrow will release its latest Brand Passion Index with a focus on consumer sentiment around major retailers who are hoping to cash in on the annual educational binge known as "back-to-school."

Major retailers are stocking the shelves with backpacks and pens, and some states are even creating "sales tax holidays" to help move merchandise while saving some money for families hit hard by the recession. NetBase sheds some light on where those dollars might be spent. The research firm crunched 12 months of data (from August 2009 to August 2010) drawn from blog posts, Twitter and the Web to find out not just which brands are dominating the conversation, but what the conversation sounds like.

One interesting takeaway is that by their count consumers don't "love" any of the seven major retailers they profiled. Old Navy comes closest with Target and JC Penney not far behind. In terms of volume, Target gets the most action on the InterWebs.

There is no love, however, for Walmart. It's the only brand on the negative side of the graphic below and clearly a lot of people say a lot of not nice things about them. Not sure how retweet-happy fans of content get counted.

Netbase chart
Source: Netbase
NetBase's latest Brand Passion Index finds little love for Walmart

Clearly consumers' strong dislike of Walmart doesn't mean that no one shops there, especially for cheap school supplies. But in the social-media world, @walmartkevin has his work cut out for him.

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