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Launching and Innovating in Walmart

Sarah Alderson and Laura Rush, Walmart’s divisional merchandise managers of chilled packaged goods and frozen foods, respectively, discuss the retailer’s efforts to help brands launch and innovate. Rush stressed the value of the customer for Walmart by identifying a staggering statistic: 90% of U.S. households have been to a store at least once in the last 12 months.

“We believe we should bring healthy foods, innovative foods and good ideas to everyone in the United States,” said Rush.

Alderson listed some common misconceptions many emerging brands have about Walmart — it’s category killing, corporate or diminishes customer experience — and set out to bust those myths. To launch in Walmart, emerging brands don’t have to be ready for 4,000 stores, she said, but actually as few as 10. They also don’t even have to be completely ready for their product to launch in stores when they approach a Walmart buyer, as Alderson noted that the chain understand the goals of these early stage brands.

Alderson also noted that Walmart provides emerging startups with an opportunity for brands to receive feedback and data from the store. She identified Halo Top, which attracted new customers to the ice cream category, as an example of what brands should do to catch Walmart’s eye, noting that successful he products need to be “something evolutionary, not necessarily revolutionary.”

Recorded during NOSH Live Summer 2019 in NYC.

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