Wal-mart Sees The Light.
Wal-mart has changed its mindset. Andy Sernovitz sees it as a landmark moment for consumer empowerment and word of mouth. Whichever way you look at it, something very dramatic has happened.
A Mindset can put blinkers on how you see the world. The Internet is having such a disruptive effect on societies, economies and markets that it is important to be aware of all the implications. To be highly effective now it is important to have an Internet Mindset. That involves many factors but one of the most important is to realize that power has shifted from entities like agencies and companies to individuals.
Many will remember that Wal-mart clearly showed its pre-Internet mindset when its PR consultant, Edelman, encouraged the use of blogs that appeared to be created by members of the general public. These were supposed to show Wal-mart in a good light and attempt to reverse some of the adverse publicity that Wal-mart gets from time to time. When the truth came out that these were in fact Wal-mart blogs, Edelman had to do some fast back-pedalling but the damage was done.
Now it would appear that Wal-mart has seen the light. The blinkers have been removed. It is demonstrating that, in the places that matter, an Internet Mindset prevails. Wal-mart has opened up a new website, walmart.com, that actively encourages true dialogue with consumers. After all, you can either be the object of discussion or take part in the discussion. Wal-mart is now providing the infrastructure to support the discussion.
Hopefully when other entities see that even the mightiest acknowledge the new order of things with the Internet, they too will abandon coercive power plays. They are becoming less and less effective and may even blow up in the faces of the perpetrators. The message is clear: Go with the (Internet) Flow!