Walmart Balances Private Label, Brand Mix In Electrics Selection

BENTONVILLE, AR— Walmart’s effort to level the competitive playing field with Amazon and other retailers can be seen throughout the aisles of its kitchen electrics assortment, from a growing mix of private label appliances to signage that highlights its app and new free two-day shipping program.

While the retailer’s small electrics spring set includes a host of well-marked new appliances, including several from Krups, perhaps the most notable highlight is the addition of several opening pricepoint products under Walmart’s Mainstays brand.

Among the appliances seen at the retailer’s Commack, NY, store from Mainstays were an electric can opener for $6.88, coffeemaker for $8.74, personal blender for $9.74, and 11-inch electric skillet for $18.96.

While it was not immediately known if Walmart was sourcing its Mainstays electrics direct or working with an existing vendor, shelf signage may offer a clue. A small pricing sign located beneath the Mainstays skillet indicated the shelf space was designated for a Rival-branded 11-inch skillet priced at $18.96.

The Rival brand is owned by Newell Brands, which has Mr. Coffee and Crock Pot appliances in Walmart’s electrics mix.

Walmart’s addition of its Mainstays brand to select opening pricepoint electrics comes at a time when retailers are looking for points of differentiation to compete with e-commerce pure plays. In addition, Walmart may have fewer options at the OPP level as several leading small electrics suppliers including Spectrum Brands and Hamilton Beach have more recently discussed their respective strategic decisions to move away from opening pricepoint appliances and focus on higher priced, higher margin items.

In response to a question about Walmart’s private label strategy during a recent investor conference call, Andreas Rouvé, Spectrum’s CEO, said he feels the decision to add such product is the result of competition with other retailers.

“We believe that at the opening pricepoint, the competition between retailers is going to get stronger,” he said. “Accordingly, retailers are going to utilize private labels to capture those pricepoints to allow them to compete against retailers in the discount and dollar channels.”

With retailers such as Walmart adding private label products to their electrics mix, Rouvé feels they are not simply looking for one-to-one price matching, but also seeking to enhance margins.

“They are looking to have a more complete assortment at the OPP levels, but as we move into higher pricepoints, they have a strong need for innovation and for brands,” he said. “That’s exactly the strategy in which we are playing and we will continue that positive mix impact going to higher pricepoint products.”

To Rouvé’s point, Walmart continues to carry a broad selection of branded kitchen electrics across all categories. Among the more notable recent additions is a line of Krups appliances, which includes coffeemakers, a waffle maker, electric kettles, toasters and a toaster oven.

With these and other new appliances added by Walmart to its in-store electrics assortment, category suppliers said the retailer has taken additional steps to highlight recent additions to shoppers. For example, the Krups appliances along with new items from NutriBullet, Black + Decker, Bodum and Bella were highlighted by blue signage on store shelves.

In addition, Walmart is also using a similar merchandising initiative with red shelf tags to highlight those items with price rollbacks.

Also of note is what appears to be a broader assortment of electrics priced between $40 and $100 in multiple segments including coffeemakers, blenders and multi-cookers. While the assortment in the Commack store may have been a bit more upscale given its location in an upper middle class region of Long Island, the product mix appears to show a strategy by Walmart to give shoppers a selection of items that are less focused on price and offer more features.