Behind the Brand: Walmart+’s Subscription & Commitment to Making Life Easier for Consumers

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During the Brand Innovators 10th Anniversary Day One livecast, marketing executives from Walmart+ discussed the secrets behind the retailer’s new subscription service and how it works.

For almost six decades, Walmart has been trying to make life easier on consumers by providing them with a wide selection of products at the best prices. So the debut of Walmart+, a subscription service that gives customers access to free two-day shipping, free store delivery, and discounts on Rx and fuel, was a natural next move for the brand in 2020.

During the Brand Innovators 10th Anniversary Day One livecast, marketing executives from Walmart+ discussed the secrets behind the retailer’s new subscription service and how it works.

“Walmart+ in a nutshell is a lifehack for our customers,” said Alex Picciano, Marketing Director at Walmart+. “So if you think about Walmart and our brand and our equity, it is about saving money and allowing people to live better lives. We really think of the membership as an extension of that. We want to save people time and money with it. We know that customer needs and the environment has changed drastically, but we stay rooted in that. We are building a program and benefits that are going to help people do that.”  

The Walmart+ marketing team is uniquely positioned as a startup that lives inside of one of the world’s largest retailers.

It is the best of both worlds in a way,” explained Piccano. “We have got the flexibility and the ability to be nimble because it is sort of an incubator startup within a large organization, so we have the resources of a Walmart, it doesn’t get better than that. The relationship with other groups is strong. I have seen in some other incubator brands get lost within a larger organization and fight for resources and I don't think that’s the case with Walmart+, it’s a huge priority for us and we see other teams trying to figure out, how do we leverage the best of Walmart and its scale and its breadth with something that is really new and exciting for the organization.”

Subscription businesses are on the rise. While a decade ago, only a minority of consumers had subscriptions, and there were only a limited number of companies offering this format of engagement, today most consumers have more than one subscription. Walmart+ refers to their clients as TSBFs – time sensitive busy families. These consumers are willing to pay for subscriptions to get the convenience and the services that they want. 

Many of the team members at Walmart+ come from other subscription brands, giving them the expertise to navigate the unique challenges of running subscriptions – a category that demands constantly building loyalty among customers so that they maintain their memberships. Roma Vakil, Head of Customer Marketing at Walmart+, for example worked on the subscription business at Bloomberg.

“I truly believe that we are living in a subscription economy and members will continue to sign up for multiple subscriptions to meet their everyday needs, whether it is getting entertainment, trusted news or even having your coffee or vitamins delivered to your door,” said Vakil. “As I was thinking about my next opportunity, I was looking for a business that would see sustained growth during the pandemic, but also what was the world going to look like post-pandemic and who was going to be those winners and losers in the new environment. I felt that Walmart was uniquely positioned and it had many of the ingredients, whether it was the trusted brand or the tech infrastructure or the resources to really succeed in launching the next big subscription business and I was really excited to be a part of that.” 

While many of the team members bring expertise from other subscription brands, Walmart+ is uniquely positioned in the subscription category because most of their customers are store shoppers and the Walmart brand’s scale and reach is unparalleled.

“With Walmart+, we’re thinking about how we make this not only another subscription company,” said Helen Schmid, Former Director of Acquisition Marketing, Walmart+. “Yes, there is a little subscription fatigue, as we all have multiple subscriptions and I think the team has really thought about how to make this a life hack. We’re positioning this as something that is going to be used day to day with multiple benefits to make your life easier.”

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