Today’s New York Times article (free registration needed) on Wal-Mart executive Thomas M. Coughlin puts a spotlight on the public perception of Wal-Mart. Here is an executive who used hundreds of thousands of dollars of the company’s money on personal spending but told everyone it was for a secret anti-union project. And many people bought it. Among its many image issues, Wal-Mart is perceived as being so fiercely anti-union that such a lie becomes plausible.
Where is Wal-Mart in all of this? With the public perception of Wal-Mart so harsh and unflattering, why hasn’t the company done more to change its image? I wonder if the negative view of the retailer has become irreversible. At this point, more run-of-the-mill campaigns to counter its bad image will be seen as too little too late. For Wal-Mart to change the public’s perception it can’t just talk, it must do something tangible. And even that is not without its pitfalls–the potential is high for such actions to be seen as publicity stunts. But the company probably won’t even consider changing its ways if it affects those everyday low prices.