Retail

Walmart Podcast Taps Into Currency Of Time

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Time is money, and Walmart wants to save customers both – but it’s also asking for them to invest a little of the same. The big box retailer has ventured into the world of podcasting, recently launching Season Two of its “Outside the Box” podcast, which is focused on the value of time.

Walmart has already invested in various strategies around time and convenience. According to Emily Schmid, director, digital content at Walmart, strategies like grocery delivery, pickup towers and technologies that help associates work more efficiently are all based on the very high value the company places on time, both internally for its employees and externally-facing toward its customers.

“Those new choices are tech-enabled. So essentially, we’re taking a cue from what’s happening within our business and creating a conversation around it,” Schmid said. “Saving people money is still core to what we do, but tech creates a new lane for us to save people time, too. This podcast is about that – how the value of time is on the rise.”

Walmart’s pursuit of eCommerce growth also demonstrates a willingness to rise to meet the growing consumer demand for convenience. Consumers have already shown they’ll gladly pay a premium for anything that saves them a little time. If Walmart can provide the same, without the premium – saving customers time and money – that would really be the holy grail.

Outside the Box

If time is so valuable, then why is Walmart spending it on making a podcast rather than on something with a more direct relationship to the bottom line? Creative media is typically seen as ancillary to more fiscally critical efforts, so there must be some potential ROI for this venture, right?

The answer isn’t clear yet. Schmid said it’s too soon to tally up the numbers, since the season just started a couple weeks ago. However, as the title suggests, Walmart is trying something a little unconventional this time – something a little “Outside the Box.” That means the ROI may not, in fact, be measurable in dollars.

Produced by L.A.-based creative agency Omelet, the podcast features Walmart’s Charles Crowson as host.

Schmid said that guests such as WorkLife host Adam Grant, Fiverr’s Brent Messenger, Joymode’s Joe Fernandez, Andy Dunn of Bonobos (which is owned by Walmart) and Jenny Fleiss of Walmart’s Store No. 8 bring value in the form of wisdom. The podcast, she said, is about learning and sharing ideas – and even Walmart is looking to learn something from the venture.

Catching Ears

With 67 million Americans listening to podcasts each month, Schmid is confident that “Outside the Box” will find its way into a few ears. Numbers from 2017 research by Edison showed that podcast listeners are dedicated and engaged, listening to at least 80 percent of the episodes they download –meaning if Walmart can succeed in the initial hook, it should be able to keep consumers listening.

According to the Edison research, even avid podcast listeners tend to follow an average of just five podcasts at a time. That’s a significant time investment, yes, but in an explosively popular medium that is quickly becoming saturated, not just any podcast can break into those top five slots. With listeners dedicating an average of just one to three hours a week to their podcasts, Walmart will have to give them a very good reason to listen – not just once, but again and again, every Tuesday when the latest episode drops.

That’s why Anna Nesser, executive director of content at Omelet, says this season of “Outside the Box” is focusing on something that is very important to consumers – their time – to get them engaged with Walmart’s overall story. It’s an entry point to the conversation, something around which the big company and the little, everyday shopper can relate.

“We recognized an opportunity to create a conversation around something that was important to Walmart as a business, but also extremely relevant and important to the modern customer at the same time,” Nesser said.

Podcasting, added Schmid, is an intimate medium, putting the conversation right in consumers’ ears: yet another way to bring the brand closer to the average listener.

“Using this podcast to explore how we all value time is relative to what’s happening with Walmart and retail on a broader scale,” Schmid said. “We’re thinking about time as a currency, just like money.”

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