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Wal-Mart tempts Facebook’s student demographic

By Stevie Smith Aug 9, 2007, 18:25 GMT

The growing importance and influence of the online Web 2.0 social networking phenomenon is becoming evermore apparent, even in the retail trade. Specifically, American giant Wal-Mart is attempting to tap into the hugely popular Facebook vein by tempting the service’s student users towards its expansive product line.

Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is to launch the new ‘Roommate Style Match’ group via Facebook’s official network, which will allow interested users to design their preferred dorm room layout, reports Reuters. The interactive application is intended to attract the many millions of Facebook’s users that occupy the college/student age bracket as the hotly contested ‘back-to-school’ retail dollar shifts into view.

Those prospective college students drawn to the temptation of designing their own dorm room alongside the choices of a roommate are presented with a special quiz to evaluate their particular decorating preferences. After deciding on a final design, users are then presented with a rundown of recommended products, all of which can be purchased from Wal-Mart in order to create a tangible real-world representation of their choices.

Furthermore, the Roommate Style Match group (which will run until the end of October) will also allow users to download a related shopping list of dorm room items and accessories. They will also be given access to an associated Wal-Mart site designed to shine a spotlight on the retailer’s eco-friendly products. And, then there’s Soundcheck, which is a Wal-Mart site dedicated to showcasing the talents of various mainstream recording artists.

"We realize that this is an audience that we need to be talking to, and that this is a channel we need to be on," commented Wal-Mart spokesperson Karen Burk regarding the retail giant’s decision to connect with college students via the popular Web 2.0 service. Burk also pointed out that it was "substantial" that the average first-year student spends around $1,110 USD while at college, most of which is spent on home furnishings and electronic appliances.

In related news, Wal-Mart is already running an advertising campaign highlighting that it has lowered prices on over 16,000 items in its back-to-school product range.

Facebook has some 34 million active users, claims Mike Murphy, VP of media sales for the social networking company, of which around 13.6 million are believed to be student and college-based users.

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