Walmart’s podcast pushes message of saving time

Brands are just getting their feet wet in podcasting.

Walmart is now on to the second season of its “Outside the Box” podcast. This year, Walmart is zeroing in on the value of time. “Outside the Box,” over eight weekly episodes, dives into philosophical and economic questions raised by the increasing value of time in the digital era. It’s a break from last year’s theme, which focused on the retail industry overall and topics that Walmart has invested in, such as the manufacturing process in the U.S. and sustainability. This season is more thematic and less promotional. But the podcast serves as another way Walmart can demonstrate how saving people time is now a key focus for the company.

“[Saving time] is something that customers, especially our customers, are looking for when they’re shopping,” said Emily Schmid, Walmart’s director of digital content. “They have a lot of choices, and we’re working to keep pace with them and offer things to them that help them save time.”

In its e-commerce race with Amazon, Walmart has been on a rampage to convince shoppers that it’s fast on its feet, including introducing online grocery pickup and grocery delivery. Most recently, Walmart introduced free two-day shipping for orders over $35 without any membership fees, a swift kick to Amazon, which just added $20 to the price of an Amazon Prime subscription.

Anna Nesser, executive director of content at creative and production agency Omelet, which works with Walmart on the podcast, said centering in on a specific theme allows Walmart to broaden the conversation around time. The second season of “Outside the Box” will be released in 20- to 30-minute episodes every Tuesday.

Each episode features guest commentators, including Adam Grant, professor of psychology at the Wharton School and host of TED’s “WorkLife” podcast; Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn; and Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss. Walmart, and guests on the podcasts, will promote the new season with a teaser trailer using social media.

Having a singular theme for a podcast is also in line with other companies’ podcasts like GE’s “The Message” and Microsoft’s “.future,” which have proved popular. Most recently, Trader Joe’s, ZipRecruiter and McDonald’s have launched their own podcasts.

“We recognized in the podcast space that there was an opportunity to focus on one key narrative that we can build the entire season around, versus topics that can be somewhat different but at the same time related to us,” said Schmid.

Although Walmart wouldn’t reveal how many listeners the podcast’s first season reached, Schmid said Walmart is enthusiastic about connecting with listeners through podcasts. The company is relying on social media marketing to drive listeners to the podcast, the company said.

“Podcasting in general is explosive right now,” said Schmid, pointing to Edison Research’s 2017 Podcast Consumer report, which found that 24 percent of Americans listen to podcasts every month, with 42 percent of people listening to entire podcasts and 44 percent listening to most of them.

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