The average Walmart shopper is a white, 50-year-old woman with an annual household income of $53,125.
Since Walmart is the nation’s largest retailer, operating more than 11,000 stores globally and 4,300 in the U.S. alone, and takes in about $480 billion in sales annually, the insight into the retail giant’s average customer is particularly interesting and comes about thanks to Kantar Retail, a retail analytics and consulting firm.
Kantar Retail surveyed more than 4,000 consumers on their shopping habits in 2015 and compared Walmart customers to Target, Dollar General and Family Dollar customers and all shoppers.
Target shoppers, by comparison, average about five years younger and make about $12,000 more annually than the typical Walmart shopper; Target also has the highest rate of customers who make between $75,000 and $99,900 annually, at about 15 percent, and the highest rate of customers who make more than $100,000 a year, approximately 25 percent.
Walmart, by comparison, has about 10 percent of its customer base who makes between $75,000 and $99,900 annually, and a little bit more than 15 percent of its customer base makes more than $100,000 a year.
“The final growth area I want to highlight is appealing to a blend of income levels,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told a group of analysts last October, noting areas where he believed the retail giant still had room to grow. “Globally, we know growth will disproportionately come from middle- and upper-income households in the years ahead. In markets where we have a presence, middle-income households are projected to drive 50 percent of total retail growth. Today, we appeal to value-oriented customers in all brackets.”
Target leads Walmart when it comes to customers between the ages of 18 and 44, with Target’s largest sector lead over Walmart in the 25–34 age demographic. But Walmart beats Target when a customer turns 45, and that lead only seems to expand as they age, because Walmart has almost 10 percent more customers 65 and over compared to Target.
Dollar General and Family Dollar also seem to grow in popularity as a customer ages. But when it comes to the household income of Dollar General and Family Dollar customers, they tend to be much lower, averaging less than $46,000 for both chains. About 40 percent of Family Dollar’s customers, for example, make less than $25,000 annually.
Target beats Walmart with millennial customers, with about 28 percent of its customers born between 1982 and 2002, compared to only about 17 percent of Walmart customers. Target also leads in Gen X customers born between 1965 and 1981, with a little more than 30 percent of its customers, compared to about 28 percent of Walmart customers.
Walmart dominates when it comes to baby boomer customers compared to Target, with baby boomers making up about 40 percent of Walmart’s customer base compared to only about 30 percent of Target’s — although Dollar General led the way with almost 45 percent of its customer base being baby boomers.
Walmart customers who do the bulk of the household shopping are more likely to be male, while Target has a greater number of females who do the bulk of the household shopping at around 80 percent (compared to about 73 percent for Walmart).
The study offers a fascinating look at the typical Walmart shopper and the hurdles the retail giant could face as it tries to boost its online presence and appeal to a more affluent customer base.
Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com is being seen as an attempt to cater to this more affluent, more youthful demographic, as Jet’s customers tend to be younger and wealthier — but Walmart still appears to have a long way to go if it wants its consumers to think of it as more than just a discount retailer.
“While the need for Walmart to move to serving a wealthier clientele is real, it’s going to be a difficult task to reframe Walmart in that consumer’s mind," said Doug Stephens, author of "The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism" and the Retail Prophet blog, in a January interview with Retail Dive. "Sam Walton committed his life’s work to positioning and retrenching Walmart as a chain built by and for the middle class. To move further up-market means fighting a strong current of corporate DNA, not to mention risking turning off existing customers. It’s the proverbial ‘rock and hard place’ scenario.”