Will country star Miranda Lambert raise Walmart’s profit margins?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Jun 16, 2022

Walmart earlier this week debuted its latest home collection with Miranda Lambert, the reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year and three-time Grammy winner.

The line — Wanda June Home by Miranda Lambert — is available for purchase on walmart.com, featuring items the retailer says are comfortable and warm. Prices on individual items range from $12.97 to $170 with the vast majority of SKUs under $30. Walmart said it will drop new additions to the collection on a seasonal basis.

The name of Ms. Lambert’s collection was inspired by her mother, Beverly June Lambert, and grandmother, Wanda Louise Coker.

“They both taught me everything I know about being a woman and how to make a warm home full of laughter, love and memories. That’s really the heart of my Wanda June Home brand,” Ms. Lambert said in a statement. “The products are a physical representation of a long line of beautiful memories with amazing women. I am thrilled to launch Wanda June Home with Walmart, where my grandpa was a greeter back in the day and where I’ve shopped all my life.”

The collection includes 80 kitchen, bar, tabletop and home décor items. Products in the line are designed to be mixed and matched. Designs have been inspired by Ms. Lambert’s own “Southwestern retro farm kitchen.”

“It’s our mission to build the easiest place to shop for home design by allowing our customers to save time, effort and money,” said Anthony Soohoo, executive vice president, home at Walmart.

“The Wanda June collection is the latest example of how Walmart is continuing to expand and elevate our assortment to democratize style for our customers.”

Walmart in recent years has sought to raise its profile in the home and apparel categories. The retailer is counting on private and exclusive brand partnerships to help differentiate itself from Target and other rivals with the goal of pleasing its core customers and attracting new shoppers. The chain is looking to use these higher margin categories to boost profitability with nearly 56 percent of its total sales in grocery.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of the steps Walmart is taking to raise its profile in the home and apparel categories? What does Walmart need to do to convert its grocery traffic into higher margin sales in other parts of its stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Unique or exclusive brand deals are a nice way to draw attention and blur price comparisons. "
"This is a great brand and aligns with the WM customer, however they will likely have a hard time differentiating design from Pioneer Woman."
"I think celebrity apparel of this category is risky — and with few exceptions."

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11 Comments on "Will country star Miranda Lambert raise Walmart’s profit margins?"


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Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Another potentially smart move by Walmart. Ms. Lambert will likely have very high awareness and appeal among Walmart’s customer base. The key to success, as it so often is, will be whether the Wanda June assortment matches those same customers’ preferences and tastes. I suspect the appeal of her music will not be enough to overcome mis-aligned assortments. I wish them luck and will be watching closely.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Like many retailers these days, Walmart is determined to make up for lost margin by doubling down on discretionary categories. Unique or exclusive brand deals are a nice way to draw attention and blur price comparisons. The Lambert-sponsored Wanda June collection is a great fit for Walmart and a nice complement to the impressive Pioneer Woman/Ree Drummond home collection. Both stars were already positioned as lifestyle brands prior to making deals with Walmart and both enjoy large social media followings. Miranda Lambert’s live performances will create even more buzz for the brand.

Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

Walmart is brokering partnerships with the kind of people that Americans find accessible: Miranda Lambert, Dave and Jenny Marrs of HGTV’s Fixer to Fabulous, and The Home Edit team of Clea and Joanna. Expect this to continue, as Walmart looks for ways to make a relational connection with people, not just be America’s low price leader.

Katie Thomas
BrainTrust

It certainly makes sense that Walmart wants to grow successful discretionary categories. That said, I question if their shopper is looking for these categories from Walmart. Target (and other brands such as TJ Maxx and HomeGoods) are known to attract treasure hunters and unexpected purchases – it’s basically part of the brand ethos. Walmart’s ethos is more centered around price.

Specific assortment of these partnerships aside, it will be interesting to see if these partnerships will pay off for Walmart, or if it’s not what their consumers are looking for from them.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

This is a smart move by Walmart. No surprise there. The right celebrity endorsements can really elevate visibility for a category. Putting more attention on home decor and apparel is exactly the right thing to do in this environment. Walmart definitely has an opportunity to grow its market share right now as customers look for value. Given Walmart’s strength in terms of its value proposition, these categories offer richer margins and drive loyalty. Plus, I think Miranda Lambert has high name recognition with Walmart customers. I expect this to do well.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Merchant Director
5 months 22 days ago

Depending on how it is marketed, packaged, etc., it might help Walmart or it may unfortunately cannabalize the successful Pioneer Women line that has now spread across many categories in the store from housewares to food. It would be interesting to see if they can co-exist in the same arena.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

If the people Walmart chooses to partner with have a strong fan base, like Miranda Lambert, and the product is good, then the partnership will have legs.

It seems to me that Walmart is choosing lesser known partners. Joanna and Chip Gaines were a strong get for Target. There are plenty of celebs out there adding their names to product lines these days. Let’s see how this plays out.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Gosh, I understand trying the Lambert line in the stores, but I’m not a believer that that celebrity apparel sales have the push/pull to increase initial margins for the stores. Obviously there are the exceptions in athletic apparel — in the area of licensed fashion, certain athletic products can create firestorm demands. But I think celebrity apparel of this category is risky — and with few exceptions.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Is it just me or is Walmart forever trying to “raise” the fortunes of its soft goods departments? (And before you respond “of course, that’s what successful retailers do,” I mean that it seems like the previous efforts are never talked about.)

But back on point: the partnership is certainly true to the company’s rural roots, but how well it will work out I don’t know … turning artistic popularity into brand association is an unpredictable art.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Although Ms. Lambert is well-known in Country Music circles, her fame is not as high in other genres. In fact, the cost to have her as a spokesperson might be greater than a simple actor or a fictional spokesperson, and is suspect in raising Walmart’s profit margins.

At the end of the day, Walmart needs to stay focused on the business model that keeps their customers happy and coming back. Including aggressive pricing, eliminating out of stocks, Every Day Low Pricing (ELP), keeping their stores clean, emphasizing a broad distribution of products that their customers are looking for, and leveraging their size to bring other partners in-store to keep their customers in their stores longer (pharmacies, auto repair, garden and outdoor, etc.) Focusing on these and their customer service is key to raising Walmart’s profit margins.

Brian Delp
BrainTrust
5 months 21 days ago

This is a great brand and aligns with the WM customer, however they will likely have a hard time differentiating design from Pioneer Woman. Adding more diversity in their offering could help further expansion and solidify them as a destination for these categories rather than primarily value based offering. Gap Home was a good start, but there are many other aesthetics not being addressed.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Unique or exclusive brand deals are a nice way to draw attention and blur price comparisons. "
"This is a great brand and aligns with the WM customer, however they will likely have a hard time differentiating design from Pioneer Woman."
"I think celebrity apparel of this category is risky — and with few exceptions."

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