Under “New Global Dynamics of Consumption and Marketing”—we have been examining salient features of the “retail revolution” stretching from Sears to Walmart to Amazon and beyond. Write an essay critically examining these features and their impact on the American way of life as well as on other societies and cultures. In completing this essay, be sure to address the following issues and questions:
1. How did each of these three companies, in their respective historical periods, succeed in overwhelming and largely decimating their competitors?
• Strategies these companies have adopted include deployment of new technologies, the mastering of the supply chain, marketing/advertising strategies, and most importantly, the privileging (or pampering) of the customer/consumer (and the rhetoric that goes with it). You are free to use other factors to explain and compare how each of these retailers succeeded so dramatically in the marketplace. You have to illustrate these points with examples.
• In the Frontline documentary on Walmart, the retail revolution is characterized as the domination of the “pull economy” over the “push economy.” What does this mean? What are its implications? In which ways do Walmart and Amazon exemplify the domination of the “pull economy”?
2. What are the negative economic and social consequences of the retail revolution?
• Some examples of consequences include decimating and reducing competition, squeezing suppliers for reduced prices, forcing suppliers to “outsource” production, poor treatment of low-end employees, and questionable ethical practices (bribery and unsafe working conditions in factories managed by vendors in poor countries, stressful working conditions for people working in the “fulfillment centers” and for the staff and managers in the corporate offices, among others). Be sure to focus on Walmart and Amazon for this question. You have to illustrate these points with examples.
3. Who are the “winners” and who are the “losers” of this revolution? Is the privileging of the “consumer” at the expense of “producers” “good” for America?
4. We have discussed in class how both Walmart and Amazon are multifaceted, innovative, disruptive, and resilient companies that are currently engaged in fierce competition. Both corporations are exploring and experimenting with multiple marketing and technology strategies ranging from the hybrid model (offline & online) to the integrated omnichannel model to the “embedding”in a branded consumer ecology model. Discuss some of these strategies and how they are shaping the global competition between Walmart and Amazon. Further, how does the “long tail” marketing/retailing phenomenon impact the ongoing competition between Walmart and Amazon (Topic 5)?
5. Which of these two companies will succeed in dominating the American (and global) retail market in the next decade and why? In answering the “why” part of the question, identify specific strategies and practices Walmart and Amazon use.
6. How do you account for the spectacular proliferation of the so-called “dollar stores” (e.g., Dollar General, Dollar Tree) in the US? How do they fit into the unfolding “retail revolution”?
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