Excitement is bubbling in our beverage aisles this summer as we celebrate a major milestone for one of our first private brand items.
Sam’s Cola is celebrating its 25th
anniversary this year. I’m part of the beverage team who worked to refresh the
taste of this iconic item ahead of this anniversary. Along the way, I found
some interesting things.
ingredients have stayed the same, we do occasionally tweak formulation to
ensure we’re delivering what customers want. The formula hadn’t been updated for
some time until recently, when third-party testing showed it could use
tinkering. It’s all about how our customers see quality.
customers are used to seeing retailers provide store-brand options, Sam’s Cola was a very new thing in 1991. The
soda was one of three private brands launched in our grocery business.
Mark Clark, a
member of the original carbonated soft drinks team for Walmart U.S. who now
works in dry grocery and global food sourcing, once said, “If it hadn’t have
been for the success of Sam’s American Choice [the soda’s name at the time],
there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have done Great Value.” He’s right.
paved the way for our private brands that customers love, like Great
Value, Sam’s Choice
and Marketside. Our private brands play a big role
in how we help people save money without sacrificing quality. Plus, coming up
with exciting new items within our private brands assortment is one of the
reasons why I love working at Walmart.
Our founder, Sam Walton, was hesitant to go into the private
label soda business. When the team approached him about launching what was then
Sam’s American Choice, he had two requests: First, it had to be as good, if not
better, than the national brands. Second, it had to be priced at a great value
to the customer. Today, we still deliver a great item worthy of his name.
started brewing when David Glass, then our chief executive officer,
noticed a price and quality gap between national brands and other items on the
market. He tasked merchants to come up with a unique-tasting soda that would
please customers and help them save money.
who was also part of the original team, said it wasn’t easy breaking into the
soda business in those days.
“Our job is
to sell what the customers buy. We don’t create demand; we satisfy it,”
explained Dallas, who is now a senior buyer.
were difficult to come up with, Dallas says, but the team ended up developing a
high-quality product – and they did it with amazing speed. It took just three
and a half months to go from pitching the idea to putting the product on store
shelves. And, can you believe Doug McMillon, our current president and CEO, was
the very first merchant for Sam’s Cola?
particularly proud that ever since that first can, Sam’s Cola has been made in
the United States. Sam was passionate about supporting U.S. manufacturing and
approved production of the original cola in Columbus, Georgia. It launched in
2,300-plus stores with three versions: Cola, Diet Cola and Caffeine Free Diet
Cola. Today, this customer favorite is sold in more than 4,600 Walmart stores
across the U.S.
special packaging featuring the original Walton 5 &10 store and Sam
Walton’s pickup on large packs of Sam’s Cola through October and help us
celebrate the 25th anniversary of a product that continues to be made with the
customer in mind.