Wal-Mart Moves Up

They have rings that range in price from $68 for a few diamond chips to $5,488 for a couple of carats. Who would believe this is Wal-Mart? Indeed, the world’s largest retailer has selectively bumped up its jewelry assortment in a mostly symbolic positioning statement. Wal-Mart’s evolving bid to move upmarket in an effort to expand its core customer base is intended to produce merchandising shock and awe—a “wow” factor that’s part of what company executives have dubbed “mass luxury.” But it’s upmarket with an asterisk. Wal-Mart has also vowed to keep a tight grip on the loyalist customer base that delivered $312 billion in sales to its 6,500-plus worldwide stores. Just whisper the word “upscale” and the response is immediate. “It’s not about going upscale,” says John Fleming, Wal-Mart’s chief marketing officer. “It’s about understanding the customer

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