Getting your CPG product on Walmart shelves has long stood as the holy grail of retail visibility. Yet some brands have intentionally avoided Walmart, one being Seventh Generation whose founder Jeffrey Hollender once claimed that "hell would freeze over before Seventh Generation would ever do business with Walmart." As Fast Company reporter Ariel Schwartz noted this week – “hell now sells ice.”
The agreement to carry Seventh Generation products in Walmart came as a shock to industry media, yet it illustrates the progress Walmart has made in breaking into the sustainability scene. As Hollender himself notes, "Walmart is not the same company it was even five years ago. It's a much different organization that has fairly dramatically and with little fanfare transformed itself into a serious sustainability leader.”
Walmart is making strides toward transparency, aligning well with Seventh Generation’s commitment to do the same. Most notable in the retailer’s push for sustainability disclosure is its membership in the Sustainability Consortium, organized to bring together diverse stakeholders to collaboratively drive innovation and improve consumer product sustainability. Walmart’s main objective moving forward is to develop and implement a Sustainability Index for all products it carries, making it easier for consumers to understand the environmental impacts their purchases.
For Walmart, the agreement marks yet another milestone on its journey from big-box bully to sustainability sultan. For Seventh Generation, it will accelerate efforts to compete with mainstream products and fulfill its mission of radical transparency and inspiring widespread conscious consumption. And let’s not forget about consumers – the partnership will create a widely accessible way to make environmentally conscious purchases. Perhaps Walmart’s tagline will one day read “Save money (and the environment). Live better (and sustainably).”