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Advertising Age reports on a closing address delivered by Wal-Mart senior vice president for general merchandise Gordon Erickson to the Magazine Publishers of America Retail Conference, in which he said that the company was not "monstrous" and had no intention of taking over the world.

Erickson told the publishers that the company is perceived one way by customers and another way by the media.

Ad Age writes that Erickson "described Wal-Mart's idealized consumer as one Mrs. Smith of Neosho, Mo., a town in the Ozarks with a population of about 10,500. This Mrs. Smith, he said, was raising three children with her husband on a salary of around $30,000 a year." It is for people such as Mrs. Smith that Wal-Mart is so aggressive about keeping prices down.
KC's View:
Oh, sure, blame the media. That's always the tack when things take a wrong turn.

The fact is that consumers do see a different Wal-Mart than the media does. And there are, it seems to us, two different Wal-Marts. One is image, the other is reality. The question is, which is which? (And do they overlap? We suspect so…)

We haven't read the entire transcript of Erickson's speech, to be honest, but we would point out that just because Wal-Mart wants to keep prices down doesn’t mean it doesn’t want to take over the world. It seems to us that Wal-Mart has been pretty obvious about wanting to be the last retailer standing. And if the media (including us) asks legitimate questions about the costs of that ambition, then the Bentonville Behemoth is just going to have to live with that. Because the questions are only going to get more intense as the company grows.

Get used to it.