Walmart's Musab Balbale: "The ethos of Gen Z squarely matches Walmart's ethos"
If the idea of Walmart as a beauty hub seems new, then the expansion of the nation’s leading grocer’s beauty e-commerce business by Musab Balbale may be equally disruptive.Balbale, the merchandising vp of omnichannel beauty at Walmart, has worked within consumer retail for the past 20 years and most recently has transitioned from wellness to the beauty space. This transition, which he said is “exciting” began when he had the chance to spearhead the beauty and health e-commerce businesses for Walmart in 2016. “[Beauty] combines considered purchases -- those that are infrequent higher price points [alongside] daily regimen purchases. And [the consumer] is also looking to be inspired,” said Balbale on this week's episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast.Within the last year, Walmart's beauty team has “nearly doubled" the number of new brands coming into the beauty aisle by “[evolving] our stores to work in a new way to accelerate the freshness of our assortment on our shelves and to make it easier for the customer,” said Balbale. The ingenuity of products on Walmart’s shelves isn't the only measure that the team has taken to increase customer engagement. They have also begun to step into the popular worlds of TikTok and livestream shopping, hosting their first live shopping event through TikTok in March.According to Balbale, Walmart’s involvement with TikTok has to do with its new customer base: Gen Z. “This was the first live selling event on TikTok,” said Balbale. “We were striking the balance between showcasing products that you care about and talking about it in an authentic and genuine way, while also making it a selling event.” He said the ultimate goal was to “create energy in the industry.”Along with their identity as “digital natives,” Balbale admits that Gen Z is “leading us to be more focused on inclusivity and equality,” a core value that the omnichannel beauty team has capitalized on through their selection of mission-driven beauty products.The current political climate, with calls from the public for racial and environmental justice, has become “articulated in the beauty shelves” in the past 12 months, according to Balbale.Walmart beauty’s new partnership with Uoma by Sharon C, a Black-owned, sustainable beauty brand from Sharom Chuter that is inspired by Gen Z, exemplifies the team’s push to “change how we engage the beauty community” through “diversity," as well as “inclusivity, accessibility [and] sustainability,” said Balbale.Uoma by Sharon “has pushed the boundaries on sustainability” by including vegan, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products within the line. Both the omnichannel beauty team and Chuter shared the desire to “bring these values that we all care more about now than we did pre-Covid and make them more accessible, both in terms of price point and physical reach to consumers.”Also during the pandemic, Balbale said the beauty team translated to beauty products the “simplicity and convenience” of grocery pick-up. “We were conscious about making sure that the beauty products she was already purchasing were in front of her [and] easy for her to reorder,” said Balbale.