Walmart’s Beauty Accelerator is back. Last year marked the launch of the retail giant’s Beauty Accelerator, Walmart Start, a program that aimed to uncover worthy, small, and independent beauty brands and give those chosen some TLC in the form of mentoring and investment, while differentiating Walmart’s beauty offering.
Creighton Kiper, Walmart’s Vice President of Beauty, said the idea of the accelerator is to increase “twofold the success of small, diverse, indie, and direct-to-consumer brands. The other part is to continue the momentum of being a really strong player and authority in the beauty industry. We looked at what the customer wanted and niches that were needed, and we found a way to answer those needs.”
Last year, the inaugural accelerator program received about 1,000 applications, from which five brands were chosen. The current accelerator was open to applications until April 28. “The brands last year spanned haircare and skincare, Kiper said. “In less than a year, we’ve been able to launch four members of that first graduating class. They’ve really enjoyed the results and relationships we’re building with our customers.”
The 2023 Beauty Accelerator brands that launched at Walmart included Dossier, luxury fragrances inspired by iconic scents; The Hair Lab by Strands, which offers a quiz that leads to customized haircare; PaintLab, press-on nails and false lashes; and Pardon My Fro, hair styling products to help hair stay big, bold, and fun.
“Most of the time, the expectation is that the brand already comes with manufacturing relationships and marketing and digital capabilities,” Kiper said. “We’re more than happy to lean in and recommend or at least coach in those spaces, but a lot of times we’re dealing with brands that are well past the concept phase and are much more in the ramp-up phase.”
“A lot of times the founders are moving from start-up mode to being invested in, and just need guidance to carefully grow their brands into everything they can be,” Kiper said.
Walmart has the luxury of gleaning insight from a broad group of consumers since the number of diverse visitors to stores and the web site is 140 million-plus per week. “We have so many customers, so we have a good idea of the types of volumes that can happen when a launch is done well,” Kiper said.
One of the hallmarks of a successful launch is the initial penetration of a brand. “One of the things we’re looking at is how things ramp up,” Kiper said. “We have a really good splash up-front, and then it keeps ramping up week on week and month on month, and we actually get another big ramp up towards the end of the year and heading into year two.”
“We’re just learning how these businesses grow in the early stages at Walmart,” Kiper said. “But there’s not a limit. The problems we’re solving, the range of products, is based on the customer. The pricing should be similar to products we already have. For other products, we kind of calibrate the forecast and how a customer will probably react, based on the value proposition.”
Kiper said the sales volume ranges for brands from “a little to a lot. Most of the time, because we want to nurture the brand, we don’t go all out to 5,000 stores right away. We want to make sure that their supply chain can be managed and that their marketing dollar stretches as far as it can, and we get the execution we wanted.
The sweet spot for Walmart Start brands has been 500 to 750 or 1,000 stores with a plan to continue to grow. It’s a long-term investment; it’s not about one-year productivity. “It’s about ramping up and getting the products front and center. It’s more like nurture up-front and then scale. We’re very pleased with the results that we see up-front. As we move into year two, we see businesses doubling. It’s really impressive to see that and that’s in the same store count with no expansion.”
2 Article(s) Remaining