Okay, I was reading the news and ran across a story about Wal-Mart banning sales of three men's magazines, Maxim, Stuff and FHM. For those that don't know these titles, they are basically Men's versions of all those women's magazines you see on News Stands. Simillar kinds of stories with covers of famous and of course sexy women on the cover wear not a lot of clothing. Okay I get it, some people see these Magazines as Playboy without the full-on nudity. But these magazines don't even show as much skin as Playboy did back in the 60's. That isn't the point though. The decision was made because Wal-Mart has recieved complaints from customers and associates (employees) about these magazines. Wal-Mart stated that they believe these magazines to be too "risque." Again, they sell Cosmopolitan and others that feature nearly the same stories. As Seinfeld would say, "Whaat'ssss Uuuup Wiiiith THAAAT?"
I'm not falling for hype here. I really see this as a big problem. I don't care about big, big is good. I do care when those that are big begin to think that there way is the best way and they throw their weight around. This isn't like Best Buy pusing for more security tape on DVDs to help keep their losses down. That is a business decision. When a company says that people are complaing and they pull a product, and the company has 10 of millions of customers, how many customers have to complain? Even in small percentages that's millions of people. Did millions of people complain that a magazine needed to be pulled? Hmmmm...... But I digress.
Don't think that is a big deal? Well, let's go to the big board and check out some stats.
-biggest private employer in the United States
-sells 36% of all dogfood
-sells 32% of all disposable diapers
-sells 30% of all photographic film
-sells 26% of all toothpaste
-sells 21% of all pain remedies
-sells 15% of single compy magazine sales (growing fast)
-makes up 2.3% of the ENTIRE US ECONOMY ($240 billion)
-biggest customer of Disney, Kraft, Revlon, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, RJR & Campbell Soup
-nations largest DVD seller
-worlds largest CD retailer
-nations largest seller of guns (that's right)
-nations largest energy consumer
-nations largest real estate developer
What does all this mean? P O W E R is exactly what it means. Don't believe me? Well, check this out. Acording to PBS (not owned by Wal-Mart, yet) that because Wal-Mart sells more CDs than anyone else they get to dictate terms to the Music industry. They will not sell any CD that has cover art or lyrics "Wal-Mart" deems overtly sexual or references abortion, homosexuality or Santanism. Let's remember that they are in some cases the only game in town if you want a CD. As a 10% share holder in domestic CD sells, they get what they want, music and cover art changed. Top name musicans change covers, titles and music for just Wal-Mart. Those on the way up the ladder, either release a "Wal-Mart" friendly product or just say to heck with Wal-Mart and misout on the market Wal-Mart reaches. Now that is P O W E R.
What does this mean? Well, it means that Wal-Mart doesn't sell products so much as it sells "Wal-Mart" morality. Let's not forget that they sell guns and are the largest retailer of guns in the United States. So when I say "Wal-Mart" morality, I am making a point. Oh, and yes, they still sell Cosmo and other magazines that feature nearly identical content as Maxim, but aimed at women instead of men. Cheryl Crow would probably agree, her self-titled album featured a song titled "Watch our children as they kill each other with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount stores," and was asked by Wal-Mart to change the verse. She refused and not a single copy was sold in Wal-Mart. Censorship that the record industry is just living with because they fear angering "Wal-Mart."
We have all been getting upset with Microsoft and calling it a monopoly, and maybe it is; but the best kept secret in business right now is how powerful Wal-Mart has become. Here is a question, if a company is willing to control the products it sells and apply the type of pressure it does to makers of the content, how far are they willing to go across the board?
To make this issue seem even bigger... Wal-Mart is growing at 15% a year. That comes down to about 1 store every day this year. Making it possible that they could be twice as big in 5 years and when asked if they could become 3 times as large, the current CEO said "I think so."
Here is one scary and final thought.... Wal-Mart is the worlds most powerful company. Wal-Mart is based in Arkansas. That makes Arkansas one of the most powerful places on earth and the people of Arkansas the most powerful people on earth. That's why the people of Arkansas are some of the poorest in the United States. Yep, Wal-Mart really cares about people; and that's the World According to Wal-Mart.