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Thread: The "Black Section" at Wal-Mart

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The "Black Section" at Wal-Mart

    At many area Walmarts, the book section is extremely well-organized.

    The self-help books are here … the religion section is there … cooking and diet books farther down … and right over here is the black section.

    The “black section” contains everything written by and about blacks: romance novels, self-help books, religion, sports, even an autobiography by the current president of the United States.

    At the Walmart on Arlington Road in Springfield Township, you’ll find two fancy, hardcover books by people who are household names in professional football. Drew Brees, quarterback of the 2009 Super Bowl champion

    New Orleans Saints, smiles on the cover of "Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity". Tony Dungy, coach of the 2006 Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, smiles on the cover of "The Mentor Leader."

    But you won’t find those books side by side. Why? Because Brees is white and Dungy is black.

    When asked why many of its stores have a “black section” that lumps together everyone from romance novelists to preachers to the president of the United States—even though they have little in common beside skin color—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. responded without really responding.

    “The book sections in our stores are designed to meet customer demand and feedback at the local level,” read an e-mail from Phillip Keene, a media-relations official at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

    “Like many national bookstores, and book sections at retailers across the country, some of our stores have a section for African-American-focused books, while a store in a different area of the country might have a large science-fiction section or Western section… .

    Of course, such reasoning only applies to "black" products, since only blacks may identify, associate, support, sell or otherwise do business explicitly on the basis of race.

    A store that had a "white" books section would become the focus of a national media inquisition and possibly hate crimes/discrimination litigation.

  2. #2
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    I don't doubt that the situation as reported exists.
    I'm not convinced that it was intentional, or that it's a bad thing.
    It could happen by entirely innocent, and defensible, means.

    Did you ever notice that just when you think you know where everything you buy is located in your favorite store, they move some of it, for no apparent reason? There is a reason.

    My friend Peter ran several 'contract departments' in a fair number of suburban department stores, and gave me a glimpse behind the facade. Peter knew how to arrange items and shelves for maximum profit, because he moved items around regularly, and kept track of how well each item sold at each location. That was thirty years ago, and Peter did all that tracking by hand.

    You can bet that Wal-Mart has computers tracking sales rates, in real time, per item, per store, by location within the store, so they know the ideal location of every item they sell, in every individual store, to a resolution of inches or less. All they have to do is adjust the shelf location of everything so as to maximize each store's profit.

    Clearly they know how to do that.
    In fact, they are obligated to do that, on behalf of the shareholders.

  3. #3
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran View Post
    I don't doubt that the situation as reported exists.
    I'm not convinced that it was intentional, or that it's a bad thing.
    It could happen by entirely innocent, and defensible, means.

    Did you ever notice that just when you think you know where everything you buy is located in your favorite store, they move some of it, for no apparent reason? There is a reason.
    There is also another factor they take into consideration. Moving things out of eyesight from their original location causes people to scan the shelves more thoroughly, trying to locate the items they are looking for. In doing so they are more likely to see, and put into their trolley, something 'Nice' that they would not otherwise have noticed. This 'grazing' can result in a definite sales uptick.

    Ken.
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    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    There is also another factor they take into consideration. Moving things out of eyesight from their original location causes people to scan the shelves more thoroughly, trying to locate the items they are looking for. In doing so they are more likely to see, and put into their trolley, something 'Nice' that they would not otherwise have noticed. This 'grazing' can result in a definite sales uptick.

    Ken.
    That's not all. They always put sporting goods, automobile parts, and other stuff that men typically buy, far in the back of the store. The key is that men are impulse buyers, so there's a fair chance they'll buy stuff they wouldn't otherwise buy, and didn't come for, if you put up an attractive display and force them to walk past it. Women are generally more focused shoppers; they come with a list of what they want, and that's what they buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    At many area Walmarts, the book section is extremely well-organized.

    The self-help books are here … the religion section is there … cooking and diet books farther down … and right over here is the black section.

    The “black section” contains everything written by and about blacks: romance novels, self-help books, religion, sports, even an autobiography by the current president of the United States.

    At the Walmart on Arlington Road in Springfield Township, you’ll find two fancy, hardcover books by people who are household names in professional football. Drew Brees, quarterback of the 2009 Super Bowl champion

    New Orleans Saints, smiles on the cover of "Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity". Tony Dungy, coach of the 2006 Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, smiles on the cover of "The Mentor Leader."

    But you won’t find those books side by side. Why? Because Brees is white and Dungy is black.

    When asked why many of its stores have a “black section” that lumps together everyone from romance novelists to preachers to the president of the United States—even though they have little in common beside skin color—Wal-Mart Stores Inc. responded without really responding.

    “The book sections in our stores are designed to meet customer demand and feedback at the local level,” read an e-mail from Phillip Keene, a media-relations official at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

    “Like many national bookstores, and book sections at retailers across the country, some of our stores have a section for African-American-focused books, while a store in a different area of the country might have a large science-fiction section or Western section… .

    Of course, such reasoning only applies to "black" products, since only blacks may identify, associate, support, sell or otherwise do business explicitly on the basis of race.

    A store that had a "white" books section would become the focus of a national media inquisition and possibly hate crimes/discrimination litigation.
    1. African-American is not black. Black is black. There are many white Americans with ancestory in Africa.

    2. To differentiate the authors based on the color of their skin is racism.

    3. Mr. Keene is full of more shit than a pig farmer's outhouse.

  6. #6
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran View Post
    That's not all. They always put sporting goods, automobile parts, and other stuff that men typically buy, far in the back of the store. The key is that men are impulse buyers, so there's a fair chance they'll buy stuff they wouldn't otherwise buy, and didn't come for, if you put up an attractive display and force them to walk past it. Women are generally more focused shoppers; they come with a list of what they want, and that's what they buy.
    That is strange, Mike. Over here I would say it is the opposite. In general men here are the focussed shoppers and woman are the browsers and grazers. Most men hate shopping and go out to buy specific things, be they household or personal. Women seem to go out to 'shop' with only a vague idea that they want to buy something. I know for a fact that, on the rare occasions that my wife comes with me to do the weekly shop the bill goes up by a good thirty percent. Why? - 'Oh, that looks nice.' and in the trolley it goes whether it is needed or not. (And before anyone asks, I do the household shop while Diane goes to her Fitness League classes. I've done it for so long it is now accepted practice.) Diane will go into a clothes shop where she will browse nearly every rack, every shelf, in case they have something she might like to have. If I go into a clothes shop it will be for, say, a pair of cords, size 40, in black with a 32 leg. If they have it I buy, if not I walk out.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 12-08-2011 at 05:02 PM.
    Die dulci fruimini!
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    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  7. #7
    I think he merely miswrote a bit. Because you and other men shop that way, they need to put the stuff we generall want in the back to force us through the store and maximize our impulse buy tendencies. We may see something, we may not. But if the stuff we want is at the front to begin with, we definitely won't impulse buy.

    Women on the other hand go in 'focussed' but they also tend to browse by nature. So there's no reason to force them through the store as men are. However, they manipulate women differently but just as much. Men are goal oriented, women are choice oriented. Men compare prices, women 'save' as much as possible. In a guy's area you're likely to see bare bones shelving and a concentrated aray of products, but usually only one or two of each type. In the woman's section you'll see and notice more ambiance, more choices for each type of item, and also the signage won't emphasize price as much as the difference between the regular price and the current sale.

    They maximize.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    That is strange, Mike. Over here I would say it is the opposite. In general men here are the focussed shoppers and woman are the browsers and grazers. Most men hate shopping and go out to buy specific things, be they household or personal. Women seem to go out to 'shop' with only a vague idea that they want to buy something. I know for a fact that, on the rare occasions that my wife comes with me to do the weekly shop the bill goes up by a good thirty percent. Why? - 'Oh, that looks nice.' and in the trolley it goes whether it is needed or not. (And before anyone asks, I do the household shop while Diane goes to her Fitness League classes. I've done it for so long it is now accepted practice.) Diane will go into a clothes shop where she will browse nearly every rack, every shelf, in case they have something she might like to have. If I go into a clothes shop it will be for, say, a pair of cords, size 40, in black with a 32 leg. If they have it I buy, if not I walk out.

    Ken.

  8. #8
    Senior Member eesquared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran View Post
    I don't doubt that the situation as reported exists.
    I'm not convinced that it was intentional, or that it's a bad thing.
    It could happen by entirely innocent, and defensible, means.

    Did you ever notice that just when you think you know where everything you buy is located in your favorite store, they move some of it, for no apparent reason? There is a reason.

    My friend Peter ran several 'contract departments' in a fair number of suburban department stores, and gave me a glimpse behind the facade. Peter knew how to arrange items and shelves for maximum profit, because he moved items around regularly, and kept track of how well each item sold at each location. That was thirty years ago, and Peter did all that tracking by hand.

    You can bet that Wal-Mart has computers tracking sales rates, in real time, per item, per store, by location within the store, so they know the ideal location of every item they sell, in every individual store, to a resolution of inches or less. All they have to do is adjust the shelf location of everything so as to maximize each store's profit.

    Clearly they know how to do that.
    In fact, they are obligated to do that, on behalf of the shareholders.
    Ditto that. Although I try to avoid shopping at ChinaMart, sometimes I do go there. The last time I was in our local store, I could not help bu notice the particular attention that two employees were giving to a display that they were setting up. I stopped and watched them for a few minutes. They bantered back and forth about the location of the sign, the way the items were arranged on the shelves, whether or not they should move it to another location, etc. i think it was actually the first time I ever witnessed WalMart employees actually caring about their jobs and trying to do the best job possible.

    I really was amazed that these two young women were putting forth some effort. Especially that day in that WalMart. It seemed to me that on that particular day, the majority of the employees were disgruntled. The checker I had the misfortune to use was especially vocal about his displeasure with his job. The girl at the deli counter acted as if she did not care whether or not I purchased something from her. The stocker that I asked a question of was grumpy and acted as if I was imposing on him by inquiring where I might find a certain item.

    Back to the books....

    I am a little surprised that there is enough demand to warrant a 'black section'. But then again, maybe there isn't enough demand, and that is one way that WalMart encourages sales by black authors.

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    Aside from the off-topic discussion of marketing, the obvious fact of promoting "black" history, literature, music, fashion, holidays, politics, religion, etc., ad absurdum still stands, as Eric observed. The whole thing appears to be promotion of a completely separate "Black Community" here in the US. I have a few friends form Senegal who are so contemptuos of black Americans that it's amazing.

    One thing they really object to is how black Americans call themselves, and the Senegalese friends of mine, niggers. one of the Senegalese man told me that he finds it absolutely absurd that black Americans " only speak one language, and pretend that it's more than one". Joseph, the Senegalese man I'm referrring to, speaks several tribal languages(Wolof is his native language) as well as French, English and Arabic.

    There's also BET and the Stars in Black channels on cable TV. Those are also examples of black separatism, aren't they?

  10. #10
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB View Post
    I think he merely miswrote a bit. Because you and other men shop that way, they need to put the stuff we generall want in the back to force us through the store and maximize our impulse buy tendencies. We may see something, we may not. But if the stuff we want is at the front to begin with, we definitely won't impulse buy.
    I had never considered that - in general - men would 'impulse buy', it seems quite an illogical thing to do.

    Women on the other hand go in 'focussed' but they also tend to browse by nature. So there's no reason to force them through the store as men are. However, they manipulate women differently but just as much. Men are goal oriented, women are choice oriented. Men compare prices, women 'save' as much as possible. In a guy's area you're likely to see bare bones shelving and a concentrated aray of products, but usually only one or two of each type. In the woman's section you'll see and notice more ambiance, more choices for each type of item, and also the signage won't emphasize price as much as the difference between the regular price and the current sale.

    If women are, as you write, more focussed, why do they spend so long going through every rack in the store? Why not go to the section that has the item one is focussed on and, from the selections on offer, either buy or walk out?

    To me, when it comes to shopping, women are a bigger mystery than quantum physics.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Ken,

    Some mysteries can never be completely understood. (especially by my underpowered brain)
    Sincerely,
    Anthony

    'Many are my names in many countries,' he said. 'Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Drarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.' Faramir

    What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation? Cicero (106BC-43BC)

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