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Walmart exec Andy Dunn on why no one cares about your brand

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Back in 2018, Walmart launched an online mattress brand through its digitally native home goods brand, Allswell.

“We had the idea that we were going to build a great direct-to-consumer mattress brand,” Walmart’s senior vice president of digital consumer brands, Andy Dunn, told the audience at The Business of Home’s first Future of Home conference in Manhattan.

The mattress’ initial price point sat between $700 and $800, and Walmart hawked its new product on both Hayneedle.com and Walmart.com.

“We’ve got all these channels,” Dunn said, describing the thinking of Walmart’s e-commerce executives at the time. “People are going to love this mattress brand.”

But the offering lacked bounce. After launching the mattress, Dunn said he and the team quickly found out that “absolutely nobody cares.” Customers just weren’t going for the new product, Dunn said in a conversation with Business of Home columnist and podcaster Dennis Scully and Interior Define chairman and founder Rob Royer.

So Dunn and the rest of Walmart e-commerce decided to figure out how to put the slow mattress sales to bed. Dunn, whose online menswear brand Bonobos was acquired by Walmart in 2017, worked with Allswell CMO Andrew Fried and Walmart e-commerce CEO Marc Lore, first considering the question: “What’s Walmart about?”

Read more: The founder who sold Bonobos to Walmart says digital-only brands are overrated, and pointed to Bonobos’ success in Nordstrom stores as proof

“We want to offer amazing accessibility in terms of pricing in a way that’s transformative compared to the competition,” Dunn said.

He said that Fried led the charge on mapping out a new price point that would appeal to shoppers. Lore, however, thought that he could save the team some time with a simple suggestion, according to Dunn.

“My boss, who’s the consummate entrepreneur was like, ‘Just go onto Shopify and key in a new price,'” he said.

But Lore’s strategy wasn’t going to work.

“Andrew and the team looked into it, they were like, ‘Well, actually, that’s illegal,'” he said.

Instead, Fried and the rest of the team continued to experiment with a new price point, using Walmart’s site instead of Shopify. They discovered that $319 was the price that was “aspirational for a lot of Walmart store consumers but that would be really disruptive to the traditional direct to consumer shopper,” according to Dunn.

And so, the Walmart team dropped the price of the mattress from close to $800 down to $319. The change helped Walmart’s new online mattress brand spring back. The weekend the changes went into action, customers bought around 85 mattresses. In the eight months preceding the tweak, they’d purchased about four.

“Nobody cares about your brand,” Dunn said. “And it turns out that’s true whether you work in a large enterprise or not.”

Dunn continued, advising retailers to avoid becoming blinded by assumptions.

“Sometimes we lose sight of what broader America’s all about,” he said. “How do we make sure we delight customers everywhere versus just in our own echo chambers?”

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