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Sam's Club, as with its more readily-accessible retail partner Walmart, exists to provide consumers with goods (and, to a much more limited degree, services) from virtually every category of consumer product, and in the more economically-attractive bulk option. Whereas Walmart retail stores are especially marketed as offering every category of consumer good at the lowest prices, though, Sam's Club markets itself as a more exclusive, family-oriented retail chain -- one that offers families a financial savings under the high-volume/low-price formula. As such, its promotional or marketing mix, including the application of integrated marketing communications (ICE), is tailored to a more selective target audience than the Walmart stores.
Because of its emphasis on bulk purchases by large families and organizations, the marketing mix employed in the service of Sam's Club differs from that used for the Walmart stores, although overlaps clearly exist, as in the promotion of a wide variety of consumer goods, including electronics, food, clothing, furniture, sporting equipment, books, and more. Sam's Club, however, has to, by nature, provide a more limited offering in terms of brands available, as the bulk purchase strategy does not allow for the greater variety offered in Walmart stores. Additionally, while there are 4,562 Walmarts across the United States, the number of Sam's Clubs is understandably far fewer: 650 according to corporate information. [See: http://corporate.walmart.com/our-story/our-business/locations/]
Walmart stores are designed to appeal to all consumers; Sam's Club is targeted at those who are better served through large-quantity purchases of consumer goods, whether it is salsa, breakfast cereal, canned soup, or frozen meatballs. The quantities sold at Sam's Club are inappropriate for smaller families with more limited storage space, so the marketing is more selective. The price component of the marketing mix, however, remains largely the same: undersell the competition. If the "place" component is more limited, then, it can afford to be, as the target consumer base is more limited. Where the IMC component of the equation becomes more relevant, than, is in the emphasis on name-brand products rather than on lower-cost generics. Sam's Club offers a more limited range of products, but only sells those that are proven as popular with consumers. The consumer can purchase name-brand goods in bulk quantity -- which translates into lower-cost per unit -- in exchange for a more limited variety of manufacturers within each category of good.
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