Episode 354
June 7, 2024

What is Futureproof For Gen Alpha?

Walmart is Experimenting in the Present to Create the Future In this episode Phillip and Brian discuss Walmart Realm and the plays that Walmart has been making towards a younger female media-savvy audience. There's so much there that is shopping content, it is ecommerce-centric, but it's entertainment, and it just gets the ecommerce crowd so riled up. Listen now and join the conversation!

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Walmart is Experimenting in the Present to Create the Future

In this episode Phillip and Brian discuss Walmart Realm and the plays that Walmart has been making towards a younger female media-savvy audience. There's so much there that is shopping content, it is ecommerce-centric, but it's entertainment, and it just gets the ecommerce crowd so riled up. Listen now and join the conversation!

Absolutely Locked In

Key takeaways:

  • {00:29:03} - “It's for an in-store audience, and that's also really important. This is an opportunity to pre-sell. We talked to BK Beauty about the point of transaction and where it actually exists and it actually exists in people's minds first. So they may make a decision to buy something. They may or may not buy it online, but if they see it in this experience and they see the creative they like promoting this, they might make a decision that the next time they're in Walmart with their parents they will beg them to get it.” - Brian
  • {00:41:01} - “This idea of putting everyday low price products right next to the other products that you might buy and spend a lot of money on is a thing that Walmart's been beating a drum on for a long time, and it didn't just start in these virtual shopping worlds.” - Phillip
  • {00:52:57} - “There are signals of what is the future of commerce to Walmart. It's in any one of these things are the present of consumer that I think is directional for the ways that we'll buy in the future. And if anything, they're just fostering great relationships with content creators right now in various channels.” - Phillip

Associated Links:

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[00:00:04] Phillip: Are you are you a little stuffy, Brian?

[00:01:35] Brian: No.

[00:01:36] Phillip: No?

[00:01:36] Brian: I'm good.

[00:01:37] Phillip: Alright. Sound a little sniffly.

[00:01:40] Brian: Allergy season, so maybe a little sniffle here sniffle there.

[00:01:47] Phillip: You ever do a nasal flush?

[00:01:52] Brian: Yeah. I love a good nasal flush.

[00:01:54] Phillip: You love... {laughter} You could get addicted to those things.

[00:01:59] Brian: That's why I don't do it too regularly. I don't want to get addicted.

[00:02:01] Phillip: It's like ChapStick. If you do if you do ChapStick, you ever do ChapStick? People that do ChapStick get addicted to ChapSticks.

[00:02:08] Brian: I intentionally don't do Chapstick because I've heard that it's not just like a mental thing, but your lips can get addicted to it, and then your lips get really chapped if you don't have it on. And I'm like, "My lips are usually not too chapped, so might as well not use it."

[00:02:26] Phillip: What is the... Hold on. I want to analyze something you just said real quick. You said it's not that you're addicted to it, it's that your lips are addicted to it.

[00:02:37] Brian: Right. It's not like a mental addiction. Your body actually adjusts where you're like...

[00:02:43] Phillip: That is all addiction.

[00:02:45] Brian: Well, okay. Fine. There's also mental addiction where you...

[00:02:50] Phillip: I can't think about anything else other than my dry lips? That is addiction.

[00:02:55] Brian: Yes. And your body can adjust so that your lips become more chapped because they're used to having things applied to them as opposed to something that doesn't affect you in a physiological way that continues on. You know? Yeah. There's mental addiction to a thing that has less physiological impact on you.

[00:03:19] Phillip: What time was it this morning when you had your first pipe of the day?

[00:03:25] Brian: Why do you ask, Phillip? {laughter}

[00:03:27] Phillip: It seems tangentially related. That's why.

[00:03:30] Brian: I don't know. Maybe. I don't feel like that's an addiction. {laughter}

[00:03:37] Phillip: {laughter} Nicotine is not an addictive thing at all. I think it's actually really cool, actually. I want to be more like you. You're like the Hemingway of the ecommerce thought leadership crew.

[00:03:48] Brian: Yeah. That's why I don't show people that I smoke a pipe sometimes because I don't want to get typecast. {laughter}

[00:03:57] Phillip: Have you done ZYN?

[00:03:59] Brian: No.

[00:04:00] Phillip: No?

[00:04:01] Brian: No, dude. If you're going to ingest nicotine...

[00:04:03] Phillip: That's how you get locked in. You gotta lock in.

[00:04:06] Brian: There's only one way. ZYN, chew... Disgusting. E-cigarettes... Disgusting. Vaping... Disgusting.

[00:04:15] Phillip: ZYN boys. Dude, the bathroom at 1909 has, like, five or six empty spent canisters of ZYN at any given time. They're locked in.

[00:04:27] Brian: They're locked in.

[00:04:28] Phillip: Absolutely locked in.

[00:04:30] Brian: They take a picture of themselves in the fighter jet, and ZYN is on the dash.

[00:04:36] Phillip: I freaking love it. I love it. Yeah. Okay. Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.

[00:04:45] Brian: I'm Brian.

[00:04:46] Phillip: I don't know how much longer we can use that. I feel like we need to transcend the culture and commerce thing until we get a patent on it. Some people are ripping us off.

[00:04:56] Brian: Say, "And we're back?"

[00:04:58] Phillip: And we're back. There's a person who shall not be named who started using "commerce is culture" in their... Which has been sort of my tagline.

[00:05:13] Brian: I saw that.

[00:05:13] Phillip: It's like a Future Commerce tagline.

[00:05:15] Brian: Yeah.

[00:05:16] Phillip: And somebody used it in their short form video. You know who you are.

[00:05:21] Brian: I know who they are.

[00:05:22] Phillip: I'm coming for you. Anyway, today...

[00:05:26] Brian: He or she is not listening to this.

[00:05:29] Phillip: They. We are going to go deep, I think, today on a bunch of Walmart stuff because Walmart is doing...

[00:05:43] Brian: It's the year of Walmart.

[00:05:45] Phillip: It is the year of Walmart, weirdly, which I thought 2023 was the year of Walmart.

[00:05:49] Brian: Walmart's just on fire.

[00:05:51] Phillip: So there's a lot to talk about today. I want to start with Walmart Realm, which is something we can get into here today, and then I want to work backwards to the last two very obvious plays that they've been making towards a younger female media-savvy audience. And I think just because there's so much there that is shopping content, it is ecommerce-centric, but it's entertainment, and it just gets the ecommerce crowd so riled up because they're like, "This is an agency that has gone a mock. This will never convert," and I'm like, "You're missing the point."

[00:06:34] Brian: Yes. Totally.

[00:06:36] Phillip: So I'd love to get into some of that today. But before we do, you can get ad free versions of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties by joining the membership. And that's also the way that you're going to get exclusive content, including our bonus After Darks, so you can get all that FutureCommerce.com/Plus. You'll also get access to our private GPT, monthly 1 on 1, a member social, which we have coming up, our first one will happen at the beginning of Q3 where you can meet other Future Commerce Plus members, and then you get access to our salon dinner events where Brian hosts incredibly very expensive fancy wine that will one day put us out of business, but also meet other amazing futurists just like yourself, and save on on print and merch. How about this? Save up to 20% and get a discount for print and merch when you visit the Future Commerce bookshop. And that's at shop.futurecommerce.com. Man, I need a ZYN here today, so join the membership. You can get all of that. We would love to see you.

[00:07:36] Brian: Should have smoked a pipe.

[00:07:36] Phillip: I should, actually. The episode title today, Oral Fixation.

[00:07:41] Brian: To be fair?

[00:07:42] Phillip: Walmart Realm and Oral Fixation.

[00:07:45] Brian: I think that last time we got together in person, you promised me a cigar, and then you fell asleep. {laughter}

[00:07:52] Phillip: Oh, let's talk about that. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

[00:07:54] Phillip: This is great. Let's talk about this. Dude, I had so many plans for that night, and I was really mad because when you left, you took all the stuff with you.

[00:08:07] Brian: What did I take with me?

[00:08:09] Phillip: Well we bought a bunch of things. So we had this idea that we were going to, like, sleaze an After Dark recording. We're going to Red Scare meets Future Commerce edition. We were going to sit around and smoke cigars, and you were like...

[00:08:23] Brian: It was going to be awesome.

[00:08:24] Phillip: It was going to be awesome, and then I fell asleep. But we were at Erewhon. We were walking around Erewhon, and what all did we buy? We walked out with a bunch of stuff.

[00:08:36] Brian: Oh, man. We got the spicy Ghia, which was delicious. Did you end up drinking it? I drank two of them. They were so good.

[00:08:45] Phillip: I did not have one.

[00:08:47] Brian: Dude, I did leave that in the hotel when I left in the morning.

[00:08:50] Phillip: I know.

[00:08:50] Brian: It was sitting there for you to wake up to.

[00:08:54] Phillip: I'm so mad. Well, I don't know. You know, wake up, you brush your teeth, you have some coffee. Is the next thing you want a spicy Ghia sumac something or other? I don't know.

[00:09:05] Brian: I think so. I but then I smoke some tobacco in the morning.

[00:09:09] Phillip: Yeah, smoke tobacco at 7 o'clock in the morning. You know, that's a normal thing. I was going to smoke a cigar with you. I was, and then I didn't feel very bad actually.

[00:09:16] Brian: You know what we did? So we walked through Erewhon, and we bumped into the tinned fish, which I found out that day, that fateful day in which you fell asleep, that you have never had tinned fish before.

[00:09:31] Phillip: I've never had it.

[00:09:33] Brian: I eat tinned fish, like, every day, actually.

[00:09:37] Phillip: That is a YouTube short. I'm not a hot girl, so I don't eat tinned fish on a regular basis.

[00:09:42] Brian: I don't think I'm a hot girl, but I do eat tinned fish on a regular basis.

[00:09:47] Phillip: You play one on the Internet. That's for sure.

[00:09:50] Brian: I just don't want to get typecast, though. That's why no one knows this.

[00:09:54] Phillip: By the way, this is, like, the most Brian thing ever. So we're we're standing in Erewhon, and we're looking at the thing. And Brian is rattling off, "Well, this costs so much at my local Kroger," or whatever. And you're like...

[00:10:06] Brian: I do keep track of prices in my head. I can't help it.

[00:10:10] Phillip: What's the name of the grocery store near you? It's a Kroger brand. Q...

[00:10:15] Brian: Yeah. QFC. QFC. Quality Food Center, originally.

[00:10:19] Phillip: "I get this brand at my QFC, but you gotta get the one with the olive oil. Blah, blah, blah..." And but I'm sitting here and the next shelf up... So it was, like, two for $5, which actually was a good deal, I think.

[00:10:30] Brian: That's not a bad price for that.

[00:10:32] Phillip: That's a great price. I don't think anything's been $2.50 at Erewhon ever.

[00:10:36] Brian: Maybe. Yeah. That's probably true. To be fair, that particular brand has been in Costco before, and it worked out to a dollar 25 per. But that's rare. Finding it in Costco is hard.

[00:10:47] Phillip: Pallet of tinned fish.

[00:10:48] Brian: I generally get the seasoned brand ones.

[00:10:50] Phillip: Yeah.

[00:10:50] Brian: Which are delicious. And I prefer them to the ones they got in Costco anyway because the ones they got at Costco had skin on bone in, which is a little much. I like it, but I prefer the skinless boneless ones, which are not as healthy. I know.

[00:11:05] Phillip: And these were sardines?

[00:11:08] Brian: Sardines. Yeah. Sardines.

[00:11:09] Phillip: Yep. Yeah. So I was fully on board with doing all of these things. I was like, I'm going to have some tinned fish. I'm going to smoke a cigar.

[00:11:14] Brian: We got a couple of different types. We had Fishwife in our bag.

[00:11:18] Phillip: So that was the thing. You were looking at the generic, like, whatever the America's best brand or whatever the heck that was. It was like a blue package.

[00:11:25] Brian: Wild something.

[00:11:26] Phillip: I don't know. It's very generic-looking. It was two for one. And I was looking at the Fishwife, which is, like, $15 for...

[00:11:33] Brian: Wild Planet.

[00:11:35] Phillip: Wild Planet. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Erica. I was looking at the next row down, which is I'm sure an identical product for five times the cost. I was, like, let's get one of those.

[00:11:47] Brian: No. No. No. No. Hold up. There's actually more variety in terms of quality and flavor and experience than you would think among tinned fish of the sardine variety. I guarantee you that producer Erica would agree with me on this.

[00:12:05] Phillip: That's very true. What was the flavor of the Fishwife?

[00:12:09] Brian: You got a an OG. Oh, no. No. We went with one that was a little spicy. I forgot which. You should've brought with you. It was all in your room.

[00:12:17] Phillip: You stole it. You took it. You took it with you. You took all of that with you.

[00:12:20] Brian: Nope. I didn't. I don't have it.

[00:12:22] Phillip: Brian. Brian. Brian?

[00:12:25] Brian: I left a bottle of wine that I didn't mean to leave, and I also left everything else.

[00:12:30] Phillip: Chili Crisp. I think that's the one.

[00:12:32] Brian: Yeah.

[00:12:32] Phillip: No. It's not. First of all, hold on. No. No. No. No. It was not sitting in the hotel room. Brian, when you left, it was not in my hotel room.

[00:12:40] Brian: Well, I guess you better go...

[00:12:45] Phillip: Did it get stolen?

[00:12:46] Brian: No.

[00:12:47] Phillip: I think it got stolen. I think our Fishwife got pilfered.

[00:12:51] Brian: Man.

[00:12:52] Phillip: Think it did.

[00:12:53] Brian: That's lame. I'm going to double check my bag. Maybe...

[00:12:56] Phillip: I think you took it.

[00:12:56] Brian: Maybe it slipped into a pocket somewhere.

[00:12:57] Phillip: I think you took it.

[00:12:59] Brian: Yeah.

[00:13:00] Phillip: He's got Fishwife in his pocket, and his other one's hailing a taxi cab.

[00:13:06] Brian: That's a Wolfpack song right there if I ever heard one.

[00:13:10] Phillip: That was an Alanis Morrisette reference. I'll have you know. Alright.

[00:13:13] Brian: Oh was it? Oh, okay.

[00:13:14] Phillip: That's actually let's have a real show. We haven't... What the heck is going on?

[00:13:18] Brian: This is more like After Dark. You should sign up.

[00:13:20] Phillip: FutureCommerce.com/Plus if you want more content like that.

[00:13:24] Brian: Yes. {laughter}

[00:13:24] Phillip: Join the membership to get an After Dark. I don't know what this is today. Let's talk Walmart. Another place you can get tinned fish, but probably not Ghia.

[00:13:33] Brian: Definitely, you can get some good tin fish at Walmart. I bought it there.

[00:13:36] Phillip: I'm sure you can. Walmart Realm launched this week. Over on well, Future Commerce on YouTube, we got a breakdown that's coming out this weekend. We did a long-form, like, two and a half thousand words about Walmart Realm. So if you want to go check that out, we can link it up in the show notes, FutureCommerce.com, and hit up The Senses,  which is our newsletter. And what I called this was Y'allternative: The Walmart Realm Breakdown. And I basically wrote this piece that goes back to a seminal work, Jim Collins, wrote this book called Built to Last, which I think everybody will read at some point that would listen to the show, but it's called Built to Last, Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. I remember this book because I was simultaneously reading it and listening to the audiobook at the same time, I don't know, 3 or 4 years ago while training for a race. And there were all these stories about Sam Walton and his experimentation in, like, new store concepts and various, you know, ways that he was building Walmart back in the day. So I kind of created this review of the Walmart Realm concept, Brian, by chopping it into the two parts of the Built to Last mentality, which is preserve the core and stimulate progress. And that is sort of the idea is how do visionary companies become the visionaries that they are? Well, they preserve the core, and then they stimulate progress. And that is, I think, what we want to talk about today with Walmart Realm. So the first thing is, what is Walmart Realm? Brian, can you give us a quick summary of what Walmart Realm is, and don't use the m word?

[00:15:27] Brian: Uh, ok.

[00:15:28] Phillip: Don't say metaverse.

[00:15:29] Brian: Oh, yeah.

[00:15:29] Phillip: We don't like that word.

[00:15:30] Brian: Got it. Got it. It's an immersive online experience that has game-like flow to it, and you can go explore different environments and collect rewards and find discounts and find little fun things to do, and there's cool music, and you can shop. Although more on that later.

[00:15:58] Phillip: It's an immersive shopping experience, theoretically.

[00:16:52] Brian: Yes. Correct.

[00:16:53] Phillip: And for the nerds among us it's built on a platform called, I believe, Imperia which is a VR shopping platform that actually kind of made some news back, I think, in, like, 2020 when there were a lot of these online activations that were supposed to be virtual online showrooms. They've done some work with, like, Hugo Boss and Bloomingdale's, and they're pretty big in that fashion space. What more to say about it? Well, I mean, I think a lot has been made of this experience in the trade press. Modern Retail did a feature on it, and a lot of folks on Twitter basically are taking a big fat dump on it. And I have different perspectives. So, Brian, let's both do a little bit of our personal firsthand experience with Walmart Realm and then we'll kind of cover all the pieces that I think are interesting about it.

[00:17:58] Brian: You went way deeper than I did. No question. I played around with it. You know, it was fun. It was interesting. It was beautiful. I thought, gave me almost, like, Myst vibes, taking it back, which is funny because anyone could have done this a long time ago, and there have been immersive shopping experiences like this. You've referenced a few in your article, the Drake one, which was not exactly 3D, as you said, but the initial reaction that I have is that this is fun, and it does give Walmart a step towards actually a very specific shopper tip, which you again got into. And so, yeah. I mean, I guess if we're going to jump to the end, is this the future of shopping? This experience? No. Is this a step towards something that's interesting to the consumer that Walmart is targeting? Absolutely. Yes. And it's interesting. I'm curious how much money they spent on this because this might be a less of an effort than people realize. It could have been a little step, especially when you think about Walmart budgets and the investment that they've made in technology. This is probably a pretty small drop in that bucket, and so from an expense perspective, experimentation like this is absolutely worth it if it's consistent with the ethos of the shopper that they're going after. And so, yeah, I'm excited about it, and I think I understand why people are saying what they're saying because there is a lot of stuff like this that happens that is probably a little bit unnecessary and people invest way too much in this. But when you're the size that Walmart is and you're going after the segment they're going after as they are, you actually kind of need to take bigger swings than what a lot of other people need, and your article describes this perfectly. So, actually, I'll turn it over to you because you actually have way more. I didn't play the mini games, and I did not get entered into the sweepstakes.

[00:20:22] Phillip: Yeah. I guess that's the big question here is why build something like this? Okay. So there's the big so what is how is Walmart going to turn this into something that makes financial sense or drives actual dollars through this platform? And I think the answer to that is they won't and they will not. It's never going to make financial sense, and it's never going to transact real dollars, and they're not going to drive... They, Walmart, outside of the press release, will not drive actual traffic.

[00:21:03] Brian: Straight line. ROI. Clear-cut traffic.

[00:21:08] Phillip: Yeah. That's not how this is going to work. What this does do is this, just like the Roblox content is positioned as creator-curated collections. So what they did with Roblox was they worked with three what's called UGC creators or digital content creators. Roblox this year will do $3,300,000,000 in digital goods sales. So if you're a Roblox user of which there are 70,000,000 monthly active users, you're spending micro dollars and microtransactions in the owned currency, Robux, on these digital goods. And that could be outfits you wear, accessories, that sort of thing. And so Walmart, when they're activating in that ecosystem, they're partnering with creators that make creator digital goods. And what they did in that ecosystem that was somewhat novel in Roblox was we're going to partner with these three 3D asset creators that already do millions of dollars in assets every year. And we're going to partner with them so that they lend legitimacy to Walmart. But what we're doing is we're having them create the UGC or the 3D digital assets of goods that you can buy through the Walmart shopping experience in Roblox and then get the physical version of it. And we've called this digital twins. Right? So if you buy the insulated water cup for $12, well, it's going to get delivered to your home, but your character in Roblox could have that equipped as well with the 3D version or the hobo bag or the Bluetooth headphones. Okay?

[00:22:52] Brian: Yep.

[00:22:52] Phillip: So that was a creator-centric experience. And this too, not the Roblox activation, the Walmart Realm activation is also a creator experience, but because this is in a don't call it metaverse 3D immersive shopping experience that is an owned platform on a Walmart branded property on the web somewhere, they're partnering with people who have giant social audiences. So this is also a creator-curated experience. And in each of these realms or these three lands, they're called So Jelly, Y'allternative, and GoChromatic, they're each curated.

[00:23:34] Brian: Wait. Which one is your favorite?

[00:23:36] Phillip: Y'allternative, but only because of the copyright infringement that I'll tell you about in a minute.

[00:23:41] Brian: {laughter}

[00:23:41] Phillip: Also, I love a portmanteau.

[00:23:44] Brian: Yeah.

[00:23:44] Phillip: Right? Y'allternative.

[00:23:45] Brian: Yeah.

[00:23:46] Phillip: That's just great. I love that.

[00:23:47] Brian: That sounds good. Yeah.

[00:23:48] Phillip: I love that. There's a lot of video content in that one, but that's a whole other thing. So the three content creators, actually, it's four, technically, where Mai Phammy, who is a content creator who has I think, 4,000,000 some subscribers on  TikTok, I believe, and millions elsewhere. Makenzie and Malia and then Nava Rose. And those three creators or Makenzie and Malia are sort of like a creator duo. So the four of them, respectively, curated these shops. Now the thing you'll notice is they're all female creators. Like Roblox, I believe two of the three Roblox creators were female as well. And almost all of the merchandising and all the curation in each of these lands were very I would say, very female-centric. It was beauty products, but specifically makeup, and it was makeup tutorials in the form of video that was geared towards women, and it was women's centric accessories with the exception of some of the home products, which I think you could just say home products just generally are unisex. So what's the so what of all of this? I think the idea here is that if you take it all in of the Walmart Realm strategy, it seems to me that between this and Roblox, they are trying to create experiences that are directionally hedging future efforts around short-form video, affiliate-driven revenue through content creators who are driving traffic to owned properties that Walmart is creating.

[00:28:29] Brian: Yeah. Yep.

[00:28:29] Phillip: They are short-term activations, but they lead back to the walmart.com experience because this is an integrated walmart.com experience. And what else does it do? Well, it actually is kind of democratizing the low end of ecommerce of things that you may not go to Walmart in search of.

[00:28:50] Brian: Yes. That's right.

[00:28:50] Phillip: So there are $3 and $4 and $5 products that you can find merchandised in the Walmart Realm experience that you would never go to walmart.com looking for necessarily.

[00:29:02] Brian: Right. [00:29:03] It's for an in-store audience, and I think that's also really important. I think that this is an opportunity to pre-sell. We talked to BK Beauty about the point of transaction and where it actually exists and it actually exists in people's minds first. So they may make a decision to buy something. They may or may not buy it online, but if they see it in this experience and they see the creative they like promoting this, they might make a decision that the next time they're in Walmart with their parents they will beg them to get it. [00:29:47] So that all into itself is like a lot of kids don't have even the ability to check out because they don't have a credit card or they have to go ask mom and dad for their credit card, which they know is not as effective as waiting until they're in the store and requesting an item while they're in their shopping run.

[00:30:11] Phillip: On that note, this is where I think the friction of these experiences comes in is that you have to be 13 years old or older to even access the shopping portions of the Roblox. You can't even see the product merchandising. They won't show it to you. So it's in a gated area of the Roblox Discovered. I know that, like, by the way, this is the biggest problem with Walmart Realm versus Roblox Discovered. The Walmart Discovered land in Roblox. They were released three weeks apart from each other.

[00:30:47] Brian: Yes. It's confusing.

[00:30:48] Phillip: They are part of a singular conversation of a future consumer investment and experiential shopping, but they could not be more different to each other. And you you really can't, I can't overstate how bad the Roblox experience feels when compared to the Walmart Realm experience, as far as an ecommerce integrated shopping experience that makes me feel like there's something deeper here that could be sticky for a future consumer. There are all kinds of things.

[00:31:22] Brian: Yeah. I know you've got more to say here. Just adding a little bit more. The point of this as well is maybe not even for people necessarily to experience this, but to leverage the creators that were involved, This is content for them. Right? Precisely. This is an activation that brings them together to talk to their audiences about what they did, and their audiences may or may not even ever go into the experience. But to see their creator that they like doing something with Walmart is a total brand play at every level. People don't complain about more specific activations with influencers. So why are they complaining about a combined activation? That just is inconsistent. The criticism is actually inconsistent. They're just not seeing the forest through the trees here.

[00:32:26] Phillip: Well you're bringing up a really good point about what does the creator bring to Walmart, and what does Walmart bring to the creator. And when you're looking at the scale of a particular creator partnering with Walmart either has to be sweet center for you. It's like my audience is going to be a Walmart shopper or Walmart has to be elevated by being next to that creator who would never partner with Walmart. So there has to be a really interesting reason for why you would partner with one of these creators. And I think that the one that makes the most... I don't know. I could argue it both ways. Doesn't make sense or does not make sense. For instance, the pinned post from Mai Phammy who is a brand owner in her own right, one of the pinned posts is from 2023 where she was on the cover of Harper's Bazaar in the resort wear collection. So as a creator, influencer, and model, and brand owner, if I've never heard of her as a creator, I go to her Instagram. The first thing I see is well, she's on the cover of a luxury-aligned magazine. And so when I think about when she partners with Walmart, what do I expect to see? I see a lot of high/low in the merchandising. I see a lot of actually, more of the more expensive items that are available in the Walmart Realm experience are merchandised in the Mai Phammy GoChromatic experience. What's interesting? This hearkens back to a third female-centric media savvy audience integrated shopping experience that they experimented with back in December. Walmart launched the first what was called a Romcommerce which was a Hallmark-style short-form video series that was a going home for the holidays, finding the love of your life, or rekindling your love  story that's set around Christmastime in a winter shopping village. We've all seen these in Lifetime or Hallmark movies in these holiday films. Walmart did one of those. They did it in, like, a 20-part short-form video series. All of the videos were 1, 2, 3 minutes long, but it was a live shoppable experience. If you are on TikTok Shop or if you were watching on Roku, you could actually access the categorization and the merchandising of what you saw in the show and a lot of the content in the show was centric around, like, hero shots of products. You know, the Drew Barrymore collection of a Christmas tree.

[00:35:25] Brian: Your nemesis.

[00:35:25] Phillip: My nemesis. Or a Keurig. You see the, "Oh, we're going to get a long shot of this pastel-colored Keurig with all the holiday mugs and the gingerbread spice coffee that you could buy. So yet again, it's a similar type of experimental experiential way of integrating content and commerce together. And that's what I think really all three of these experiences share in common and it, again, a female-centric audience.

[00:35:58] Brian: Yeah. I think this also aligns with something that Walmart did recently that got a little bit of buzz on social, which was, or maybe they've been doing it for a longer period of time, there was a bunch of noise around the luxury products that were on the Walmart marketplace, and the dupes and knockoffs that kind of came along with them and price points around them. I think that you nailed it with a high/low. What's interesting is that there are a lot of people that will be buying products based off this high/low matchup that can't afford the high part of the high/low, but they can't afford the low. So for them, it's seeing stuff mashed up with the high that they can't afford that makes them feel like they're doing something that even people who can't afford the high or want to spend on the high products will do. So it's again, this is master class psychology. I think Walmart's super smart for allowing those types of products to show up, in their marketplace and also intentionally working with creators that can match them up. Another thing I want to mention, and this is something that complements what you're talking about, the female focus, something that a lot of the people who would criticize this activation forget, and let me generalize the the criticizers really quickly. I'm going to say these are educated coastal elites that see something like this and find it really easy to look at it and be and be snooty about it. Like, who wants this? That's the big criticism. Right?

[00:37:56] Phillip: Who asked for this?

[00:37:57] Brian: Yes. Who asked for this?

[00:37:58] Phillip: Nobody asked for this.

[00:38:00] Brian: Right.

[00:38:00] Phillip: Is what they would say.

[00:38:01] Brian: That's the screaming point, but I think they forget about the younger demographic in middle America who actually spends a lot more time online than you might think because when you're in a rural environment, the Internet is a portal to the rest of the world. They have phones. They're on their phones. They're looking, and they have to make a trip into a Walmart. Typically, a Walmart is a 45 minute, an hour long drive to get to, and when they go, they're stoked. I know that sounds crazy, but even before Walmart got cool, they were stoked to go because they could afford the stuff that was there, and it gave them the Temu feel. They could shop like they were a billionaire when they were there. There's a level of I can afford anything in the store. I can buy cute or cool stuff that I couldn't get at any other stores... The Dollar General's around. And I can walk out with a haul. And when I get home, I'm going to be super happy, and I'm going to use all this stuff on a regular basis. And so I think there's more hype around getting to a Walmart or a Walmart experience like this than people realize. And so to mash up the gaming aesthetic along with the Walmart lifestyle, the high/low thing is actually hitting all the notes, and I think there's a lot that's being missed in that younger demographic, especially like that, 14-16.

[00:39:53] Phillip: CARLY... It's Can't Afford Real Life Yet.

[00:39:55] Brian: Back to you. I know that was a parenthetical, but yeah.

[00:39:59] Phillip: No. No. I also know that it can also be a little bit of friction if you're listening to this, and you're, like, these are two middle aged white males that are talking about how young women shop...

[00:40:07] Brian: People don't know that I lived in Springfield, Missouri for a while.

[00:40:15] Phillip: We know how women shop.

[00:40:17] Brian: Yeah. Okay.

[00:40:17] Phillip: We know how the young womens shop in the world. That'll be fun to be taken out of context.

[00:40:24] Brian: Anyway. Yeah.

[00:40:25] Phillip: I also want to point out that they did merchandise a bunch of $300 handbags, like Michael Kors bags and some other things in the Romcommerce show called Add to Heart. I don't think I called the name of the show out earlier, but it's called Add to Heart. And it's the love story of Jess and Javi, a tale as old as time where they meet Santa Claus in his Prius. But  [00:41:01]this idea of putting everyday low price products right next to the other products that you might buy and spend a lot of money on is a thing that Walmart's been beating a drum on for a long time, and it didn't just start in these virtual shopping worlds. [00:41:16] Let's also talk about a couple things that I feel like are interesting. The gamification aspect here. So there are many games.   There's a little detour here. The content that I've been consuming lately, Brian, is a subscription media membership on YouTube from a company called Dropout, which used to be College Humor. They went out of business and now they have game shows. They're up for a bunch of Emmys, but they have a bunch of game shows. It sort of began with rebuilding around Dungeons and Dragons and sort of a D and D tabletop game that was staffed by a ton of comedians which actually made for some really great YouTube short content. That's originally how they got me, but they started doing all these, like, very millennial-centric quiz games, send ups of things that, like, pop culture-centric jeopardy type of game, but it's for nerds. It's called, Um, Actually. So when you answer, you don't say, "What is..." You say, "Um, actually..." Really interesting very actually, very metamodern. You should check it out. I think it would blow your mind.

[00:42:33] Brian: I'm sure it would.

[00:42:34] Phillip: The content is incredible. In particular, the show called Game Changer. Game Changer is a game show where the contestants don't know what game it is. They have to figure it out while they're playing. And the game changes every game, and it gets wilder and wilder and wilder as the seasons go on. They just take bigger swings. For instance  as a total, like, really off topic here, talk about parentheticals, the last challenge of one of the last episodes of that I just watched was whoever can get furthest away from the studio would win the point in that particular round. And somebody left, went to the airport, bought a ticket, and flew to New York.

[00:43:23] Brian: That's pretty great. That's pretty great. I love that. They had to figure that out, though? How did they figure it out? How did they figure out that was a challenge?

[00:43:30] Phillip: They have chase cameras.

[00:43:32] Brian: No. No. But how did they figure out that that was the rule? Like, aren't they having to figure out, like, what the rule is as they go?

[00:43:38] Phillip: You'll... Yeah. You would have to watch.

[00:43:39] Brian: Okay.

[00:43:40] Phillip: And you can easily spoil the surprise.

[00:43:42] Brian: It's like reverse Calvin Ball.

[00:43:45] Phillip: It's wild, actually. So I've been watching a lot of that type of content, and that's kind of where my head has been. A lot of the game show mechanics on some of the episodes revolve around them looking into who has spent more time on their phone this week? And you pull your phone out, you do your screen time, and that's how you win a point or something like that. Who can guess how much so and so has spent on food delivery this month? Right? Sometimes it's that amount of money is surprising for some people.

[00:44:19] Brian: Sounds pretty fun and also very, like, late stage capital, but yes.

[00:44:24] Phillip: It is. Well, for sure. That's the business that we're all in. This particular type of media diet, like, feels very highly specific. And while that's not, like, very shoppable like, that's not shoppable content. It's the kind of thing that feels like it could be the next step or evolution for more of this type of content meets commerce in a world where Walmart is creating content like the Romcommerce type content. And that's a premium media offering. That's the Amazon Prime of the future is why aren't we doing more of that type of content for a specific type of an audience? And they're hitting across all of the age gaps right now. So, like, Roblox's teens. I know where you're going, but just I'll finish. Roblox is going after teens. Walmart Realm is going after the Gen z, the firm Gen z potentially because there's so much of the short form video in there that's yeah. Seems very specific. The RomCommer stuff is going after the millennial woman. They're trying to hit across the the whole scale, but you were about to say something.

[00:45:38] Brian: Yeah. I think you know where I'm going, but Mr Beast is basically the sacrificial lamb for this style. Mr Beast, you know, whether or not he fails or succeeds is neither here nor there, but what he's doing is kind of in the vein that what you're talking about all that instead of working with Mr Beast as if these brands can raise up their own proprietary versions of this, like Walmart's been doing with other types of activations, there's opportunity for them to really clean up in sort of the late stage capital type or metamodern type content consumption  and turn what they're doing into a gamified... It's not just enough to get people to sign up for Prime Video through the Prime subscription. Now it's original content. Oh, it's not just enough to do original content. Now we have to do linear commerce within our original content.

[00:46:40] Phillip: Mhmm.

[00:46:41] Brian: Next step is, "Oh, it's not just enough to do that. We have to have our own set of influencers that people actually care about and follow, and they run their own little game shows." It's all getting vertically integrated, and people are going to be using the whatever the latest game thing is. You know what's interesting? What was that  quiz game that went out of business that was trivia. Trivia HQ?

[00:47:16] Phillip: Yeah. Trivia HQ.

[00:47:17] Brian: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Downfall was brutal. Feels like that could have also trended towards this. That was early Mr Beast-y type content. I'm feeling like I think you're right. I think brands could head this direction. That's really smart.

[00:47:37] Phillip: Oh, I mean, a Mr Beast Walmart pair up or has already happened with chocolate.

[00:47:41] Brian: Yeah.

[00:47:42] Phillip: Right? With Feastables. It's also happened, come to think of it... Hold on. Didn't they...

[00:47:50] Brian: They've already...

[00:47:53] Phillip: With Kylie Jenner. Didn't she go in, like, play, mock as a...

[00:47:57] Brian: Oh, that is very metamodern. And was it Kylie? I think it was Kylie.

[00:48:02] Phillip: I forget who it was. Somebody fact check me on that. But it's like people did not take kindly to that is sitting there scanning groceries.

[00:48:11] Brian: No. No. But it got the the discourse going. The discourse was fired.

[00:48:20] Phillip: It's true.

[00:48:20] Brian: Yeah.

[00:48:21] Phillip: It's true. Well, I'm going to check that. I'm going to fact check myself right now on that.

[00:48:28] Brian: It was someone in the vein of Kylie if it wasn't her. So you're directionally correct.

[00:48:34] Phillip: No. It was Charli D'Amelio. I take it back.

[00:48:36] Brian: That's right. Okay.

[00:48:38] Phillip: Alright. Yeah. Charli D'Amelio. It's you know, actually, that makes a lot more sense  because it's a TikTok creator. This is somebody who very specifically is of that world. It seems like the strategy is very clear. Okay. Protect the core. I think I wrote quite a bit about that. The stimulate progress seems very clear. We know who Walmart is going after. So I went digging to find out what are the demographics of a Walmart shopper today. And I found a report from earlier or from last year, from 2023  from analytics firm numerator that said that Walmart's average customer is a woman who is 59 and a half years old, white, married, and earns $80,000 a year. And on average spends about $50 or $54 a trip and makes 65 trips a year. And  while 13 a half percent of her spending takes place at Walmart and 11% at Amazon. So here's the question. How do you keep and grow that as generations continue to age? And how do you turn the 34/35 year old into decreasing spend with Amazon, increasing spend with Walmart when she's 58?

[00:50:08] Brian: I think that it's not actually necessarily just about keeping and retaining that customer because I bet if there's a way to take this a step further, a lot of that spending has to do with that woman's children.

[00:50:28] Phillip: A 59 and a half year old woman is shopping for her children?

[00:50:32] Brian: Sorry. I thought you said 33 year old.

[00:50:34] Phillip: 59 and a half average white... An average customer is 59 and a half year old white female shopper who earns $80K a year.

[00:50:42] Brian: Sorry. I thought you said 33 for some reason. I don't know why. 59 and a half year old. Well, they don't have to plan for that person to spend more with them in 30 years because the odds are that they're not going to be alive.

[00:50:58] Phillip: Well yeah. No. But I guess that my question to you was, it seems pretty obvious to me that they are trying to drive the average age of their average shopper down.

[00:51:08] Brian: Down totally.

[00:51:09] Phillip: With more of these types of brand activations. These are not, like, this is not going to drive an appreciatable volume.

[00:51:17] Brian: I would argue they're probably looking at this from a cohort perspective instead of an average age because there's a ton of Walmart shoppers that are older that are going to drive this up. In fact, if it's 59 and a half, that means that there's a lot, lot, lot more older shoppers, like, that are older than 59 and a half.

[00:51:37] Brian: Sure.

[00:51:38] Phillip: And so it would be interesting to see if there are weird cohorts that are missing from specific generational moments or if this is just due to the fact there's a lot of really old Walmart shoppers out there. So I don't know.

[00:51:59] Phillip: So I was listening to another podcast, and we can actually wrap now. This was a really good overview. I think we drew a lot of contrast and talked about a lot of the things that I think are interesting. I think directionally, everything that you could say is a potential future consumer behavior is found in Walmart Realm. So the mini games, mobile games, gamification, short form video, makeup tutorials, creator tie in, creator curation, 3D immersive exploratory merchandising. Things with depths  depth or space, multisensory. All of these things are present, but there's still ecommerce at the backbone. Are there problems? Yeah. Sure. Go read my article. I'll tell you all the problems.

[00:52:51] Brian: Yeah. This is not the end game.

[00:52:54] Phillip: Not at all. Not at all. But  [00:52:57]there are signals of what is the future of commerce to Walmart. It's in any one of these things are the present of consumer that I think is directional for the ways that we'll buy in the future. And if anything, they're just fostering great relationships with content creators right now in various channels. [00:53:16]

[00:53:16] Brian: Right.

[00:53:16] Phillip: And that is the current need for their business is to grow the affiliate side because they can't just pay Publicis to put ads all over the world for them forever. You're going to have to diversify  where your business is. That's to protect the core, and then they have to stimulate progress.

[00:53:32] Brian: Yeah. And they're doing it in the same activation. That's the part that's incredible. I think that you absolutely nailed it, and the good to great thing was a really smart way to frame this because they are getting wins out of this in the very moment, but they're also looking and experimenting for things that will come. And so I think that's your whole article was a great setup for where this is headed. And I do want two more things. So on the gamification side, I think we've talked about this quite a bit, but that alone as well is very of the moment. The gamified aesthetic is not just the future aesthetic, it's the now aesthetic. Everything is getting more gamified. So, again, there are wins to be had in this that are here now wins. And so great work. Final thing, and you had a great observation about the music in this. I mean, you teased it early in the episode. I want to give you one shot to to talk about it before we sign off.

[00:54:45] Phillip: Oh, yeah. I mean, basically so I was in the Y'allternative Land, and I'm walking around, well, floating around. And there was something really familiar about the music. And the music has this, like, choral "ooh" that does a very familiar modulation, and the modulation just made me think of something. And I tried to quiz our resident film expert, JT, but he's too young to have seen Edward Scissorhands. But I'm yo, when I post on TikTok that Walmart Realm literally has part of the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack in its land, it's going to go viral. So I'm going to do that this weekend.

[00:55:37] Brian: Before we publish this episode. Totally.

[00:55:39] Phillip: Oh, yeah. No. This won't come out for a week or so. That's it. That's the thoughts. If you want to hear more of our Fishwife journey and some of the future sleaze,  that's on the After Dark. So we'll get more into some of that stuff. I have some  reading to do on Baudrillard and the simulacrum stuff, Brian, because I feel like there's a whole other angle to this about, like, the approximation of shopping in a simulacrum as opposed to, like, real shopping. So that'll be on the After Dark for  a coming week here. You can get that by subscribing to Future Commerce Plus and join the membership. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. You can find other podcasts at FutureCommerce.com and join us  at the MoMA  which should be in any day now when this finally lands. You can get any remaining tickets if they even exist at FutureCommerce.com/VISIONS for our VISIONS summit. And we'll see you there. Thank you so much for listening.

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