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November 4, 2002

Prof says Wal-Mart stumped by
South Korean consumers

Wal-Mart may be a giant among U.S. discount retailers, but South Korean shoppers aren't impressed, says John C. Clark, a professor of management at California State University, Sacramento.

Clark says that since opening its first store in 1996, Wal-Mart's South Korean operation has chosen bad locations, set prices too high and had a poor selection of merchandise. The stores have taken a beating from South Korea's local E-Mart chain, which sells more than twice as much per square foot.

Clark's study, "A comparative analysis of satisfaction of American and Korean customers with discount stores," was co-written by HoJong Hwang of Yong-In University in South Korea. It has been submitted to various international business journals.

The study examined a dozen factors in customer satisfaction, including merchandise price and quality, politeness, quick service, assortment of products and overall convenience. It concludes that South Koreans aren't as satisfied with Wal-Mart service or merchandise as Americans are. And for South Koreans merchandise is the most important part of their overall satisfaction.

"Wal-Mart just hasn't adjusted well to the South Korean market," Clark says. "They tried to put in a cookie cutter operation, and it isn't working for them."

Clark says Wal-Mart has enjoyed more success in eight other international markets - Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

Wal-Mart is the largest corporation in the United States, with $220 billion in revenue in 2001 and 1.2 million employees.

Media assistance is available by contacting the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

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