retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Wall Street Journal has a story about Allswell, described as an “influencer-approved, online-only” brand of mattresses and bedding being pitched “to people willing to pay more than is typical for a mattress from a deep discounter.” Allswell was launched “like other direct-to-consumer startups of its ilk, starting with paid mentions among social-media influencers and a wacky marketing campaign—the company showed off its wares in a mobile tiny-home tour.”

But what wasn’t said was that Allswell is owned by Walmart, which “started it as an experiment in reaching younger, wealthier and more socially conscious shoppers.”

The Journal suggests that while Allswell seems typical for a Casper-Warby Parker world, it could one of two ways for Walmart:

“It is … either a brilliant move by Walmart into an area of product-as-marketing that will someday be the norm, or it is a cargo cult-ish attempt at doing all the surface things to attract affluent millennials that could founder once its target audience realizes that behind the curtain is the great and powerful deep-discounting big-box store.”
KC's View:
The thing is, Allswell can work as long as Walmart allows it to develop its own culture and brand identity, without adhering it to the mother ship to too great an extent. If the quality is good and it delivers on its value proposition, most people will be fine. Nobody stopped eat Ben & Jerry’s because Unilever bought the company … but that’s because Unilever didn’t screw it up.