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 expressed their dismay on social media, calling the potential acquisition “brand suicide” and threatening to never shop at Bonobos again if it’s acquired by Walmart.
“Bonobos just lost a customer,” one person wrote on Twitter. “I do love the stretched washed chinos but no offense, 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.”
Another called it an “ignominious end for Bonobos.”
These shoppers’ visceral reactions to the news might have something to do with there being little overlap in the customers of Bonobos and those of Walmart.
Bonobos sells slim-fitting casual and work clothing for men online at a price point of about $100 an item or up to $1,000 for a suit. The company markets itself to hip, young, urban, fashion-conscious men.
The price range for Walmart’s menswear, which appeals to a much broader audience, is closer to $10 to $30.
That stark contrast is exactly why the move would make strategic sense for Walmart, according to Oliver Chen, an analyst at Cowen & Co.
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 on Monday. It gives Walmart an opportunity to enter a high-margin specialty category that would 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 of the companies. Here’s what some people are saying on Twitter:
— pdot pushkin (@pdotpushkin) April 17, 2017
— Emily Dysart (@E_Dysart) April 17, 2017
— Jennifer Bonhomme (@JenBonhomme) April 17, 2017
— Jason Simon (@szymenowicz) April 16, 2017
— Jason Tropp (@tropp) April 16, 2017
— Francis Brevik (@fkbrevik) April 16, 2017
— Dennis Wierl (@dwierl) April 16, 2017
— Cole Roberts (@ColeTFRoberts) April 17, 2017
— Chris Marino (@c_marino) April 18, 2017
— Walter Gray (@walterwgray) April 18, 2017