Eyeing better penetration and higher quality in a strategically important category, Walmart is uncorking a new approach to its private label wine program.
Its new Winemakers Selection line is a curated collection made for Walmart by winemakers working directly with the retailer’s buyers. Officials said the new approach—one used successfully by competitors such as Trader Joe’s, Lidl and Aldi, all of which have made affordable but well-regarded wines a leading element of their brands—would help to build its own reputation for quality at a value.
“In the past, we would canvass the world and figure out what was available and what we could do quickly at scale,” said Al Dominguez, SVP of merchandising. “We took a slightly different approach in working directly with winemakers.”
Dominguez described the line as “wines that outkick their coverage,” retailing for about $11 each, “but drink like a $30 bottle of wine.”
Each wine in the collection, which currently comprises nine wines, has distinctive labels but shares the Winemakers Selection branding and similar rear-label designs describing the wine’s point of origin, a description and suggested food pairings, making shopping easier.
Walmart is currently “undershared” as compared to peers in the wine space, Chief Merchant Steve Bratspies told WGB in an interview.
“We are looking to get up to parity,” he said. “And if we get up to parity, we’ll have some opportunities to do some things.”
Bratspies said wine was a crucial category in reinforcing an image of quality that has been a focus of Walmart as it gets its grocery business in shape. Wine comes with the benefits of providing merchandising opportunities, can draw trips and can help to put an “extra item in the basket,” Bratspies said. Wine is also trending well with millennial shoppers, he noted.
He said the company was looking to accompany the new wine selections with the appropriate real estate in stores.
“It’s how we display it, but also about making sure we have the pure linear square footage to carry the breadth of assortment we need,” he said. “We are also working on the experience, looking for different ways to present the product.”
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