What’s the best way to get New Yorkers to carry around your brand and look at it every day? The answer might already be in your wallet—a custom MetroCard campaign targeting commuters. Jet is doing just that this holiday season, with Jet-branded MetroCards launching in select MTA stations on November 6th. The goal is to reach affluent urban customers with the #ShopPurple message, and is just one of several strategic moves the Walmart-owned online retailer and delivery brand is making to reach this audience.
The Hoboken, New Jersey-based Jet, acquired by Walmart for $3.3 billion last year, this year launched its first private label, Uniquely J; partnered with smart access delivery company Latch; and finding synergies with fellow Walmart-owned brands including Modcloth and Bonobos.
We chatted with Jet’s Vice President of Marketing David Echegoyen (right) about its latest campaign, bigger brand strategy and portfolio-building approach of one of Walmart’s family of brands—and one of Amazon’s biggest competitors.
David, let’s begin with your New York subway card campaign. How does it fit into your bigger marketing initiatives?
When we were looking at where we could complement our out-of-home consumer encouragement campaign in the city, we were thinking about how we could drive the brand message alone without it feeling so commercially-driven. The Metrocard is just such an iconic canvas, and not a lot of brands have used it.
It’s a medium that we will cease to have in the future and that a lot of New Yorkers have as a daily part of their lives. We wanted to create something that people would actually want to collect, which is why we spent the amount of time we did in making sure this was the right design.
We were pretty strategic about the ten MTA stations we chose—there are a lot of tourists in the city this time of year who would not necessarily be our target audience. We wanted to target stations that are frequented by customers who live in the city and engage with the city.
This particular holiday campaign is heavily focused on gifting, and offering a solution for the holidays. Our focus is to serve an affluent metro customer, and we want to do that with bold experiences. Before, Jet’s focus was around price and value. Now we’re expanding that to show that we can deliver value beyond price.
How are you reaching millennials, and what do they really want?
There’s been an overwhelming thought that speed is king, and that as long as you have speed then your experience is good. Speed is important, but just focusing on speed is incomplete. Speed is only as good as precision. If I over-deliver and get you the couch you bought from us the week before you expected it, that has actually created a problem for you—you might need to get rid of your older couch, and now you have two couches and not enough space.
Same thing with our fresh food delivery—earlier isn’t better, it needs to be delivered at the right time for you when you’re expecting it. We believe millennials, who have mostly grown up online-enabled, have an expectation of knowing where everything in their lives is at all times, and that extends to e-commerce. Speed is great, but it is only great when it’s accompanied by precision. Internally, we refer to it as a “ballet of logistics”. Customers depend on so many other things to function on time to make their day work, and we want to be seamlessly integrated into that to be able to serve them effectively.
What’s the strategy behind launching a private label with Uniquely J?
The idea behind it was always foundational to the Jet brand: How do we create brands that have an elevated feel, that would satisfy customers from a design aesthetic and from a product quality standpoint—without feeling like there’s any trade-off? You get all the flavor and quality you’re looking for, but are also getting a product that helps fuel the greater good without paying a premium. We felt like launching this was key to establishing Jet, but is also great for our other brand partners. By doing these things, we are going to attract and retain a customer that other brands are interested in serving as well.
What is your portfolio strategy for managing your products and all the different brands within it?
We looked across several categories and we decided to start with what our customers would consider everyday essentials. We looked at how we could get into coffee, cleaning products, paper goods, laundry, pantry, paper, food storage, and more. Things that we thought we could bring to market and tell that story of either plant-based ingredients, USDA-certified, BPA-free, etc., and fill in the gaps in those categories where we felt the tradeoff was still somewhat present, and we could bring something that helped alleviate the tradeoff.
The Walmart acquisition has allowed for such a great flow of information between companies. They have expertise in sourcing and distribution and so many other things that only a company of their scale can have. Then Bonobos and others have ideas and friction points identified around providing a better experience and serving customers better.
I was just talking to Andy Dunn, the CEO of Bonobos. There are lot of learnings, but the key is that we share customers in key areas with similar interests, and that’s where I think it gets gets super interesting, when we can start sharing areas we think there are gaps in the market and where they can excel develop product. They can help us understand how they’ve solved it and vice-versa.
We launched Modcloth on Jet, and we’re actually launching Bonobos early next year. We want to make sure we do it with the right product experience, and so Bonobos is teaching us things about selling apparel we didn’t know before, so it’s been great having these top minds thinking of how we can better serve customers together.
Bonus question: Do you prefer Jet or Jet.com?
It’s a great question. We’re actually currently defining when and where we use one versus the other. ‘Jet’ is a singular approach to what we think is a multi-faceted experience, and it depends mostly on the medium or the audience where we choose to use one or the other.
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