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Walmart vs Amazon: How two of the largest retail giants stack up

In the competition for dominance of the US retail market, the Walmart vs Amazon fight has escalated into a real slugfest in the past few years.

The former is the largest company in the world in terms of revenue, while the latter has transformed into the largest online seller. The former has fast-tracked product returns through their app. The latter is partnering with Kohls to allow for on-site product returns. The former acquired internet retailer, Jet, for $3 billion dollars in 2016. The latter acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars in 2017.

As the quest to dominate the retail market both online and through brick and mortar continues, we’ve taken an interest in understanding how the market perceives each of these companies. To fuel our curiosity, we’ve partnered with Fortune to ask for people’s opinions on Walmart vs Amazon, as it relates to each companies’ impact on the country, its customers, and its employees.

Here’s a breakdown of our findings:

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Amazon had a significantly higher percentage of respondents say that their company has made a positive impact on the country. The discrepancy of results on Walmart vs Amazon varied however, depending on the respondents’ background:

Liberals overwhelmingly favored Amazon while conservatives were more indifferent when comparing Walmart vs Amazon.

Political orientationAmazon has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)Walmart has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)
Conservatives 73%64%

The difference in opinions between Liberals and Conservatives derive from the cultural shopping habits of traditionally conservative states versus traditionally liberal ones. For example, the top 5 states that spend the most money at Walmart are Oklahoma, South Dakota, Arkansas, Alabama, and Kansas—all traditionally conservative states.

Like before, the respondents as a whole favored Amazon. Also, as the respondent’s level of education increased, we saw them progressively dislike Walmart while keeping a favorable rating of Amazon.

Education levelAmazon has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)Walmart has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)
At least college educated79%36%
Partial college education78%48%
High school education or less77%63%

As education and income rise, shoppers visit Walmart significantly less often—particularly as the household level of income reaches $100k+. As a result, their perception of Walmart may be largely influenced by controversial media coverage, such as a morally distasteful price cutting strategy, poor treatment of employees and the neglectful maintenance of products that live on their shelves.

As lesser educated people are more likely to earn a lower income, they may not have as many alternative options for certain goods and services. This results in them being more likely to accept the quality of Walmart’s products at face value.

The older our respondents were, the more likely they were to appreciate Walmart’s impact. In Amazon’s case, popularity among generations was consistently high.

AgeAmazon has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)Walmart has made a positive impact on the country (% who agree)
65 and older82%67%
35-64 years old76%50%
18-34 years old—Millennials78%44%

It’s worth keeping in mind that Walmart has been around for 50+ years. This gave our older set of respondents more of a chance to have shopped at the retail chain and purchased items they found valuable.

As a whole, Amazon dominates Walmart in having a reputation of caring about the customer. The overall percentage of respondents who think that Amazon cares was at 67% vs Walmart’s 36%. However, for certain demographics, the percentages were high for both companies.

Minorities were more likely to say Walmart and Amazon care about their customers than Caucasian respondents.

RaceAmazon cares about their customers (% who agree)Walmart cares about their customers (% who agree)
African Americans77%71%

As in previous examples, we see that as an individual’s level of education increased, they were more likely to have a negative perception of Walmart, while Amazon’s reputation was nearly unchanged.

Education levelAmazon cares about their customers (% who agree)Walmart cares about their customers (% who agree)
At least college educated68%20%
Partial college education73%26%
High school education or less63%54%

Though Walmart has embarked on numerous acquisitions to attract upper-class customers, our data shows that they still have a long way to go in building up their reputation with this market segment.

It turns out that both companies are undesirable work destinations. More specifically, 36% of our respondents would be excited to work at Amazon while only 11% would be excited to work at Walmart.

Here’s a breakdown on the results of Walmart vs Amazon based on the respondent’s level of education:

Education levelExcited to work at Walmart (% who say yes)Excited to work at Amazon (% who say yes)
At least college educated4%36%
Partial college education4%43%
High school education or less21%32%

It’s hard to compare what’s essentially a giant brick-and-mortar retail establishment to what amounts to a technology company of the likes of Apple or Microsoft.

The majority of Walmart’s jobs pay close to the minimum wage and health care coverage has been cut in recent years. In Amazon’s case however, the results are more complicated. Amazon is a fast-growing company, is entering several new markets—with pharmacy potentially next—and has offices in several vibrant and exciting cities. Their company also offers a higher proportion of jobs that require more extensive education and greater pay.

Despite all of these elements working in Amazon’s favor, the company has received its fair share of negative press on their workplace culture.

Looking at the survey results on how Americans perceive Walmart vs Amazon, it’s clear that Amazon comes out as the winner. Regardless of a respondent’s age, race, or education, they’re consistently favoring Amazon. However, given Walmart’s longevity, size, and willingness to act aggressively and creatively, don’t be surprised if perceptions change drastically in the future.

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