"We were talking through consumer insights, and we hit on this
notion that people want things that are nostalgic, things from
their past that remind them of a better part of their life," said
Al Dominguez, senior VP-snacks, beverage and impulse. "So we worked
with our partners at MillerCoors to generate this idea, really talk
them into it and convince them."
Zima isn't a Walmart exclusive, but "we tried to buy as much
from MillerCoors as they would allow us to buy" said Dominguez, who
believes he's bought about half the limited edition of Zima hitting
Walmart also heard from customers about how they liked to flavor
Zima by dropping Jolly Ranchers candy into it. So the retailer will
co-market the brands on social media, he said.
MillerCoors does not plan to follow Walmart's lead on the
co-branding; marketing a candy and alcoholic beverage together has
the potential to raise age concerns. "MillerCoors has no plans to
market these brands together, on social media or otherwise," a
company spokesman said. "The company always encourages responsible
consumption of our products and has exhibited a long-standing
commitment to responsibly marketing our beers only to those 21 and
Hershey, which sells
Jolly Rancher, also said it was not involved in Walmart's plans.
"We are not involved in these specific retailer marketing efforts,"
a representative said. "We often see retailers coming up with
creative ways to merchandise and market brands that are inspired by
consumer ideas, from both the past and present. This shows how
relevant and popular our Jolly Rancher brand continues to be."
The nostalgia appeal plays out in some of Walmart's recent
advertising playing off old rock anthems, too. But Walmart's
stepped-up product development effort isn't all about nostalgia or
other people's brands. Executives from Chief Merchandising Officer
Steve Bratspies on down went to great lengths to highlight
increased emphasis on quality as well as price, including extensive
testing that goes into Walmart's bargain-priced sportswear and
towels. This includes "democratizing" organic foods through lower
prices, such as with new organic applesauce pouches.
Latriece Watkins, senior VP-consumables and over-the-counter,
showcased private-label products aimed not just at the biggest mass
brands, but also emerging players such as Johnson & Johnson's
OTX and L'Oreal USA's Matrix
salon brand.Walmart has significantly staffed up product
development in its baby-care business in the past 18 months,
executives said, focusing on everything from pouch meals to baby
wipes and strollers, with products priced 25% to 50% below branded
But Walmart's effort isn't all about knockoffs either. Its own
Flower and Hard Candy cosmetics are big sellers, Watkins said. And
Great Value is rolling out 28 new flavors of ice cream, more than
doubling its assortment to 49 including category-original names
like "Break-Up Brownie."
"Aspirational products at disruptive prices" was how Scott
McCall, senior VP-home and seasonal, described Walmart's
product-development effort. This includes a Keurig K-Cup coffee
maker hitting stores now priced at $59 -- $30 or more below prices
elsewhere -- and Yankee Candles priced around $10 less than what
they sell for elsewhere.