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Popularity contested: Does sales revenue automatically equal likability?

Ask a random shopper what the most successful store in the world is, and chances are they'll all answer the same.
"Wal Mart."
Ask that same question and change the world "successful" to "popular," and you may not get the same response.
That's because impressive profit and loss sheets or sales revenue doesn't necessarily equate to a store, restaurant or retailer also being considered a place consumers like. Wal Mart does wonders as far as sales are concerned, mostly because there seems to be a store on every street corner these days. Wal Mart also benefits from having a one stop shopping mentality by offering everything from groceries to oil changes with a little clothing and housewares sprinkled in between. Even though Wal Mart is contemplating transforming its larger stores into smaller ones, chances are pretty strong that the retail mogul isn't about to loosen its grip on the top spot as far as sales are concerned.
And with that, you have to wonder if Wal Mart cares much about being popular or liked by the consumer if they're still coming in droves to buy anything and everything in the store. You get the perception that Wal Mart cares a lot about its bottom line first and foremost.

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Some stores, however, want the best of both worlds: popularity and sales. Stops like Starbucks, Panera Bread and Walgreens market visits to their respective stores as experiences or cater to a specific demographic or add credibility to what they do. Walgreens is a perfect example of both those attributes since they're more popular with women than men, and they center their rhetoric on health, wellness and sporting more than just a slight medical acumen.
Starbucks is trendy but isn't to the point that they turn off the general public. Starbucks and Panera have done plenty to take the focus off the coffee and sandwiches and create more of an inviting atmosphere. Of course, any business sinks or swims based on the actual product but the scenery is something that lesser popular or renowned establishments tend to overlook.
If you don't believe in the power of color splash or overhauling the particular look or feel of a place, ask McDonald's or Burger King how often they've determined that the food is fine but the décor is downright dreadful. McDonald's is the Wal Mart of fast food restaurants, but their popularity is forged more out of convenience than quality, you could argue.
Busy moms and dads value the "Happy Meal" as reason to smile when work was too hectic or the kids have one activity after another to the point that making a home cooked meal isn't feasible. McDonald's sales skyrocket every year, and their popularity is about what you would expect given that it bails out parents from time to time for dinner but doesn't exactly showcase the kind of food that fits with a steady dose of health and wellness.
Most retailers, stores or food spots won't argue if their customers continually come through their doors in droves, even if they're aren't particularly well liked. But you have to think that, based on how they cultivate a marketing plan or work diligently on their public image, popularity isn't exactly the last thing on their minds, either.

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