Retail buying; mass merchandising; gender


This paper examined the factors that are critical for small health and beauty aid (HBA) manufacturers to become Wal-Mart suppliers. The sample firms for this study were small HBA manufacturers who participated in a mass merchandising screening program. Participating firms submitted their product for external evaluation, and each product was either rejected or sent on to the mass merchandiser for buyer review. Exploratory factor analysis was used to determine the factors that were critical in deciding which products were suitable for Wal-Mart’s buyers to examine. Owner gender and product gender were also examined using chi-square analysis and independent t-tests. We found that mass retailers wanted HBA products that have demand stability and low risk potential, and male-owned firms seemed to have better success in the mass merchandising marketplace because of the type of product that they submitted. Only 31 percent of male-owned firms submitted gender-affiliated products compared to fifty percent of female-owned firms. In our study, gender-affiliated products were found to be less successful than unisex products at getting forwarded onto Wal-Mart for buyer review and at receiving actual shelf space.

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