Walmart to Drop Wild Oats

walmart-store2The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Bentonville, Arkansas based retail giant Walmart will drop its exclusive Wild Oats organic food brand. The line was introduced two years as a easy substitute for developing their own private brand and a quick entry into value organics. The move ends the complicated deal with private-equity firm Yucaipa which bought the Wild Oats brand after the supermarket retailer was acquired by Whole Foods Market. Two years ago, Walmart turned to Wild OAts as a faster route to grow organic penetration.

Wild OatsHowever, the problems with Walmart’s Wild Oats organic strategy where numerous:

  • The Wild Oats brand has little recognition or loyalty outside of Wild Oats original retail footprint. Walmart customers simple have no idea what it is or why they should care. The licensing tax has no value.
  • Relatively low penetration created low visibility in store.
  • The minimal launch and limited if often nonexistent ongoing marketing support provided little support
  • Compared to Simple Truth at Kroger Walmart is simply not in the organic business
  • Organic, natural and free-from products have shifted from niche specialty categories to mainstream.

Walmart Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Bratspies said in a November interview, adding food perceived as healthier is “not our affluent-customer strategy, its broad-based strategy, but it’s a key piece to being relevant with that customer base,”

According to the WSJ, after the elimination of Wild Oats Walmart will shift it’s organic strategy to selling more produce and expanding the organic presence in its traditional NBE private label Great Value.

Although I applaud the elimination of Wild Oats I urge Walmart to talk to their customers, walk with them as they shop, stand in their kitchens as they cook, sit at tables with them as they eat. Great Value organic is half a solution. Sure you can hit a price point and add sku’s left and right, but it is a short term strategy designed to capture share and not a long term strategy designed to create loyalty or build love.

Now is the time for to create THE unique, ownable WALMART organic private brand! That becomes a asset that adds value to your balance sheet.
Not a bad copy of something else.

Now is the time to be BOLD!

Now is the time to WIN!

(Reach out, we would love to help!)

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.