Embrace Critical Thinking & Data

Rosalind Brewer

Lesson time 11:31 min

Roz talks through a time in which she was at a crossroads as CEO of Sam’s Club. She shows you how she leveraged critical data to build insights and make decisions that would help expand the overall customer base of the business.

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Topics include: Review the Analytics • Critical Thinking & Problem Identification • Craft a Problem Statement • Case Study: Starbucks Iced Coffee • Challenge the Status Quo


ROSALIND BREWER: This next lesson is the importance of critical thinking and innovation. I remember my time of being the CEO of Sam's Club. I was faced with a decision crossroad-- two paths I could take. Pursue the value conscious customer, or pursue the higher-end, more affluent shopper. Walmart Stores, Inc. is made up of Walmart International, Walmart US stores, and then Sam's Club. So the difference between Sam's Club and Walmart-- Sam's Club is a warehouse buying club. You pay a membership to shop there. So just imagine that you have to pay to enter the doors, and then you get to buy the merchandise. What was interesting is the customer base at Sam's Club was sometimes very similar to the customer of a Walmart store. And typically, a Walmart store has sometimes a lower-income level, but then at Sam's, we're asking you to pay a membership of at least $100 a year at the time. So we were really challenged with two different paths. Do we take that Walmart customer and serve them through a warehouse club model, or do we look at the potential for our customer, and look at our history, and look at the data, and look at the science, and says, for some reason, they've been continuously capable of paying $100 a year, to then shop at the store? That's interesting. That says something different about the customer. The data was sending us in a different direction. We chose a different path. We chose the path to begin to migrate that customer to a higher household-income level. And we began to look at products in our store, and also to look at the way they like to source their goods. So we learned that a person who shops through a membership is really more digitally inclined. So we brought in a lot of new tech applications in the store. So one of the most important products, first and foremost, was the scan-and-go product. If you paid a membership, you have to think membership has to have some privileges. So what are those privileges? So we created an opportunity for you to open an app, walk in the store, put all of your goods in your basket, and walk out of the store. I'll tell you there were product categories that made a difference. We actually created a Sam's Club of the Future. And in that model, we created what we called Food Theaters in the back, so that you can watch your sushi being made. And these bars became more popular than the restaurants in the zip codes in that area. And so we knew we were on to something, because we stayed with the premise that if you're going to pay a membership, there has to be a privilege to that membership. And it made all the difference in the world. When we began to see that, we saw a few numbers move off the chart. One was more replenishment in terms of their membership. Memberships were automatic. We didn't have to sell as much. They knew what they were going to get for that $100. The second thing that we learned from this is that we had our custome...

About the Instructor

After years of helming the ship at some of the country’s most iconic companies, including Walmart, Starbucks, and Walgreens, Rosalind Brewer has forged ahead in her quest to innovate while maintaining deep integrity. Now she’s sharing CEO-level strategies for team leaders of all types. Learn to promote innovation, gain buy-in on projects you believe in, and stand out as the leader you know yourself to be.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Rosalind Brewer

Fortune 500 CEO Rosalind Brewer has transformed companies like Walmart, Starbucks, and Walgreens— now she’ll teach you how to make an impact at any level.

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