Sam’s Club upgrades its Member’s Mark private label, sustainably

Discussion
Source: Sam's Club
Apr 25, 2022

Sam’s Club announced that its Member’s Mark brand will embrace a new slogan “Made with Our Member and Planet in Mind” and commit to making the environment and sustainability areas of focus.

Sam’s Club aims by 2025 to remove a long list of ingredients such aspartame, formaldehyde, high fructose corn syrup and talc from Member’s Mark food and consumable products, while boosting its assortment of items made using practices that promote animal welfare, support land and ocean health, mitigate deforestation, utilize more sustainable textiles, and come from renewable sources.

More recyclable, reusable, and industrially compostable components will be incorporated in Member’s Mark items and packaging. Suppliers of Member’s Mark items will be asked to participate in parent Walmart’s consortium to reduce or avoid one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions as part of Project Gigaton.

The upgrades were inspired by Walmart’s 2020 announced intention to become a regenerative company. Over the past two years, over 1,200 Member’s Mark items have already been launched, renovated, and reformulated and members are increasingly citing the improvements as a reason for their renewals.

Sam’s Club upgrades its Member’s Mark private label, sustainably
Source: Sam’s Club

Prathibha Rajashekhar, SVP, private brands and sourcing, said in a statement, “The Sam’s Club member is at the center of everything we do, so as we continue to evolve the Member’s Mark brand, we intend to develop items that are reflective of the ingredients, processes and materials they want – and don’t want – in their products.”

A new Member’s Mark logo will feature a checkmark to help communicate Member’s Mark focus on people and the planet. Sam’s Club will partner closely with the Walmart Sustainability team and leverage its My Member’s Mark Community, a group that includes more than 40,000 Sam’s Club members who provide regular feedback on Member’s Mark items.

According to the “2022 Retail and Sustainability Survey” from enterprise technology and outsourcing provider CGS, 79 percent of consumers believe that sustainability is “somewhat important” to “very important” when purchasing apparel/footwear products, a return to pre-pandemic levels, with the figure at only 51 percent in the 2020 survey. Almost seven in 10 (68 percent) respondents would pay more for sustainable products.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Sam’s Club securing many benefits with Member’s Mark’s sustainability upgrades beyond helping reach Walmart’s regenerative targets? Will pushes toward “greener” products become a bigger focus or level off over the next few years?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I suspect this initiative will be very successful and hope it becomes a benchmark for others to emulate."
"This is a great move by Sam’s Club, I think this is a great response to their top competitor Costco’s, wildly successful private label program."
"By combining material sustainability initiatives with the value proposition that private labels offer, the Member’s Mark brand is well-positioned as a growth driver for Sam’s."

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13 Comments on "Sam’s Club upgrades its Member’s Mark private label, sustainably"


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Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Ongoing high inflation will present severe headwinds to sustainable product growth, but the Member’s Mark initiative has a chance to fight those headwinds with Sam’s Club value pricing combined with greener products. I suspect this initiative will be very successful and hope it becomes a benchmark for others to emulate.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

Well said and I completely agree. A sustainability strategy that is forward thinking and aligned with customer values is what will set the retailer apart. Sam’s Club will pave the way for other retailers to learn how to be more green and responsible.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

The move towards “all sustainability” is a bold one that can set the retailer apart. That being said, it will be a hard road ahead as it will require product redevelopment and supply chain planning at a time of difficulties.

Brian Delp
BrainTrust
7 months 6 days ago

At the very minimum this will help in total company efforts to shift perception of the big box and mass merchant chains. Customers widely say in polls that they want more sustainable goods, however at the register they have not voted for those products at a higher cost so tracking sales likely isn’t the best metric here. Sam’s Club is smart to focus this on its most value-based layer of products where possible. These lower priced items are also higher unit volume and should allow for any increase to be blended with economies of scale. Costco has been dropping items here and there with a sustainable angle, but Sam’s is taking a clear position and is sure to get some first-mover advantages.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Leveraging private brands to double down on sustainability is a smart move. When compared to Costco’s Kirkland, Member’s Mark comes off as a fairly generic private brand. Sustainability upgrades will give Member’s Mark a clearer identity and purpose within the Walmart private brand portfolio.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Holy moly, Walmart is serious about sustainability.

These green initiatives add value to Sam’s Club membership with sustainable practices, packaging and products. Free-from private labels will deepen loyalty with exclusive, healthy goods consumers desire.

Thrilled to see Walmart keep using its might with industry leadership and collaborations that protect people and the planet. (Last week, Walmart Canada eliminated plastic bags nationwide.)

Green practices will grow in strategic significance over the medium term as sustainability remains an urgent priority.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

This is a great move by Sam’s Club, I think this is a great response to their top competitor Costco’s, wildly successful private label program. I also think it pushes Sam’s to the front of the line in their class of trade in providing product transparency for their members. This is a hot issue today and I tip my hat to Sam’s for taking this approach.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

If Sam’s program is successful, we will see Costco follow suit. That is good for everyone.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The big challenge for this positive initiative is to make it positive. Whenever companies start talking about greener products they run the risk of “greenwashing.” One product mistake belying its claims will not only hurt the program but will hurt Sam’s.

On the other side of the green ledger, if they are successful other retailers will follow. That is good for everyone.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Member’s Mark’s sustainability initiatives are certainly laudable, but they will likely bump into a few obstacles with current supply chain issues. The move to ‘greener’ products has been underway for years so I don’t see that changing anytime soon, but price-benefit will always weigh top of mind for shoppers, particularly when inflation continues to climb.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Sustainability matters, and it’s very commendable and encouraging to see Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark brand evolve and establish meaningful strategies for more greener products. As conscious consumerism and the significant focus on sustainability gain momentum, it will be imperative for retailers and brands to follow a deliberate and targeted path towards a greener and earth-friendly future.

By combining material sustainability initiatives with the value proposition that private labels offer, the Member’s Mark brand is well-positioned as a growth driver for Sam’s Club for the foreseeable future. Consumers are fatigued by the longer-term sustainability initiatives. It’s clear that the future is now, and retailers and brands have to take immediate and significant steps that include sustainable, regenerative, circular, and carbon footprint strategic initiatives for the future of our fragile planet.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Sustainability is important to many customers, especially Gen Zers and Millennials. Sam’s Club has the customer’s trust that their private label merchandise is quality and reasonably priced. Even if it costs a little bit more, members will trust that Sam’s is still giving them the best deal.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

Customers with a good amount of disposable income and an awakened mindset are the perfect target customers for introducing sustainable products. Customers of Sam’s Club obviously meet the high income group criterion, and sustainability is one of the hottest themes right now. So I don’t see why this programme shouldn’t benefit Sam’s Club. Sustainable and ecologically friendly items will definitely become more popular in the next years.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I suspect this initiative will be very successful and hope it becomes a benchmark for others to emulate."
"This is a great move by Sam’s Club, I think this is a great response to their top competitor Costco’s, wildly successful private label program."
"By combining material sustainability initiatives with the value proposition that private labels offer, the Member’s Mark brand is well-positioned as a growth driver for Sam’s."

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