A subtle change is occurring at Wal-Mart's four Marketside grocery stores, which the company is testing with Arizona shoppers.
In contrast to the great fanfare and international attention that accompanied the stores' debut in Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and Tempe last year, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company quietly changed the name and logo on the newest addition to its family of stores.
The stores are now called Marketside by Wal-Mart. The logo, which once appeared to be stacked fruits or vegetables, was also bagged in favor of the new Wal-Mart logo, which looks like a yellow sun or star.
Previously known simply as Marketside, the retailer had obviously wanted to distance itself from the Wal-Mart image, said David J. Livingston, a supermarket industry consultant.
He said the company probably decided it was more advantageous to capitalize on its image as a low-cost leader in the retail and grocery store industry.
"Obviously, they're just making a business decision," he said. "If you've got a name like Wal-Mart, which is a household name, why not use it to its full extent?"
Company officials didn't return phone calls.
Tom Rex, an economist with Arizona State University's WP Carey School of Business, agrees with Livingston.
"There's quite a market already for Wal-Mart," he said, "So yeah, it would make sense to me that they'd keep pushing their name."
Wal-Mart had hoped the prototypes would be a hit with consumers and wanted to expand beyond the Valley and across the nation. However, Reuters reported last week that the company is holding back on expansion plans given the current economic conditions.
Marketside by Wal-Mart places a heavy emphasis on convenience, freshness and low prices. If that sounds familiar, it's probably because those are also key objectives for Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, a grocery chain that was opened in 2007 by Tesco, a United Kingdom-based grocer. Fresh & Easy was expected to be Marketside's biggest competitor.