NEW YORK Walmart dwarfs Target in size, yet it loses out to its rival when it comes to consumer discussions online.
Target consumers are much more likely to speak about their shopping experience, according to online buzz monitor Crimson Hexagon, while chatter about Walmart often veered into discussion of the social implications of the retailing giant when it comes to labor practices and local retailers. It examined online chatter on blogs, Twitter, social networks and message boards for a one-month period beginning in mid-July.
Overall, Target enjoys mostly positive chatter. About 75 percent of conversations were positive, according to Crimson Hexagon. Walmart, on the other hand, is discussed in a negative light 61 percent of the time.
"Walmart was much more polarizing," said Melyssa Plunkett-Gomez, vp of business development at Crimson Hexagon.
Crimson Hexagon performed the analysis on following word that Target plans to up its marketing budget in order to convince consumers it is not just about stylishness, but also value.
It has some work to do. While people voice strong opinions, they are also much more likely to chat about one key brand attribute -- low prices. Fully one in five shopping conversations touched on low prices, Crimson Hexagon found.
"In this economy was it something that was helping them?" Plunkett-Gomez asked. "People found Target a place for a nice shopping experience."
Crimson Hexagon is one of several firms entering the buzz-monitoring space with the hopes of divining not just if people are talking positively about a brand but what exactly they're discussing. So-called "sentiment analysis" diverges from keyword-based approaches that bucket conversations as positive or negative.
"That's just the volume of the conversation," Plunkett-Gomez said. "It doesn't really tell you anything about the nature of the conversation."