Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deregulation Explained Through Wal-Mart and Target

I haven't written a blog in many months but the Regulation Vs Deregulation debate has inspired me once more.  There is much debate going on in sound bites from both sides of the political aisle, but this is not really an issue that can be fully comprehended in snippits of 15 seconds or less.

Pretend for a moment that this debate was not going on in Washington but in the board room of Wal-Mart and that Target was the government of another country.  Also pretend that you (the customer) are a business.

You need to go shopping and both Wal-Mart and Target carry what you need.  The price is nearly identical but you go to Wal-Mart for the sake of convenience.  You arrive and get your cart but to your surprise you are handed a survey to fill out as you shop.  You are also informed that this is not optional but a requirement to complete checkout.  You comply but find that check-out takes much longer.  The next time you go you find that in order to control traffic in the aisles, arrows have been painted on the floor.  Following them is not optional.  You follow the arrows, filling out the survey as you go, walking much farther than you intended and find that the lines are backed up so far that you can't even see the register.  Frustrated you wait because guards are there to hand out tickets should you abandon your cart and shop elsewhere.  When you finally arrive at the register you discover that the cost of everything has risen to cover the cost of enforcing the new rules so that Wal-Mart is now much more expensive than Target. 

On your next shopping trip where do you go?

In the Wal-Mart executive offices, the board scrambles to find a way to get back their market share.  Their brilliant idea is to lay down more rules for their shoppers.  They also wage a marketing campaign stating that they are for order and protection of their customers through these new rules -- because the shoppers havent been behaving right you know -- while Target offers no protection and just wants a free for all with shoppers brawling in the aisles.

Would you continue to shop at Wal-Mart?  If not, how can you not expect a business to seek other alternatives?