Walmart is reportedly in talks to buy the high-end men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, and some loyal Bonobos fans are deeply disturbed by the news.
Customers have taken to social media to express their dismay, calling the potential acquisition “brand suicide” and threatening to never shop at Bonobos again if it’s acquired by Walmart.
“Bonobos you just lost a customer,” one person wrote on Twitter. “I do love the stretched washed chinos but no offence, I won’t go to Walmart for my clothing.”
Another wrote: “I know I’m not the only one who would never admit to wearing Bonobos if Walmart buys them. They have no business owning a high-end brand.”
A third called it an “ignominious end for Bonobos.”
These shoppers’ visceral reaction to the news might have something to do with the fact that there’s little overlap between customers of Bonobos and Walmart. Bonobos sells slim-fitting casual and work clothing for men online at a price point of about $US100 per item, or up to $US1,000 for a suit.
The company markets itself to hip, young, urban, and fashion-conscious men.
The price range for Walmart’s menswear, which appeals to a much broader audience, is closer to between $US10 and $US30, by comparison.
That stark contrast is exactly why the move would make sense for Walmart strategically, according to Cowen & Co. analyst Oliver Chen.
For Walmart, Bonobos offers “a brand with loyal customers, premium price points, [and] expertise in a differentiated niche,” as well as fresh merchandising and fashion talent, Chen wrote in a research note Monday. It gives Walmart an opportunity to enter a high-margin, specialty category that will help it better compete with Amazon, he said.
There would be some major benefits for Bonobos as well, assuming the brand wouldn’t alienate too many customers by “selling out” to Walmart, as one shopper lamented on Twitter.
“A transaction would accelerate Bonobos’ scale and share… and catapult Bonobos’ brand awareness,” Chen wrote.
But some critics just can’t make sense of the potential marriage between two the companies. Here’s what some people are saying on Twitter.
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