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The Washington Post reports that “as Walmart aggressively buys upscale niche brands, analysts say it’s facing an uphill battle to win over younger, more affluent shoppers across the country. Although traffic at Walmart.com is growing rapidly — 34 percent since last year — the company’s forays into higher-end online brands have been less successful.”

Bonobos’ website traffic is down 12 percent in the past year, while Moosejaw’s is down seven percent and ModCloth’s is down eight percent.

The story notes that “analysts say well-to-do 20- and 30-somethings in large cities also tend to be sensitive to Walmart’s business practices. The company has long been a target of labor advocacy groups who say its low wages push some workers to turn to food stamps and other public programs to make ends meet.”

In fact, the Post points out, “last year, Walmart rolled back its health coverage for workers at Bonobos, ModCloth and other acquisitions, resulting in higher out-of-pocket premiums and deductibles for workers,” though Walmart says that “it has added some benefits for Bonobos workers, including a 401(k) match and financial assistance for adoption and foster care.”

But the problem seems to persist for Walmart - some of the very consumers it was hoping to attract by purchasing brands with broader appeal may not want to buy those brands once they’re owned by Walmart.
KC's View:
I’ve been in both Bonobos and Moosejaw stores, and in each of them the employees said that the Walmart influence had been minimal. But that may not matter … and I do think that this will remain a challenge for Walmart, which has an image that may not be embraced by people who are the target customers for these upmarket brands.