WeWork launches retail vertical to promote members’ brands

WeWork's WeMRKT

WeWork’s WeMRKT

WeWork has launched WeMRKT, a new retail space featuring products made by WeWork members, giving up-and-coming companies visibility, support and feedback within the co-working space’s community.

Products will  include healthy snacks, office necessities and branded apparel. Julie Rice, the company’s chief brand officer, said the new format is “by our members, for our members” and that WeMRKT is “a great example of WeWork’s commitment to our members’ success”.

An initial selection of 10 products featured was chosen in a pitch competition in April, with winners being selected through criteria such as innovation, eye-catching packaging and a solid business plan. Included are brands such as Banana, a plantain chip company aiming to eliminate food waste on organic banana farms, and Misfit Juicery, which makes cold pressed juices using ‘ugly’ produce that farmers are unable to sell elsewhere.

Competitions will now be held quarterly, and winners will also further distribute through SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery service that partners with WeWork.

For chosen companies, this is an opportunity to not only promote their product, but receive more immediate feedback, says Molly Peterson, director of communications at yoghurt brand Icelandic Provisions. “That feedback actually really helps us in terms of product development,” she says. “We are really honored and feel lucky to have that kind of instant visibility within the WeWork community.”

WeMRKT’s first location was unveiled on June 25 at the New York WeWork 205 Hudson, with more locations planned to open in the city and across the country, imminently.

As legacy retailers struggle to react quickly to retail’s ever-changing climate, independent brands are increasingly being more nimble in their approach and finding new channels in which to get their products in customers’ hands. Also in New York City, for example, is Bulletin, a “flea market” type of store that rents shelf space to up and coming brands who were born in digital, enabling them to sell in the physical space.

Not all established retailers are ignoring this trend, however. In May this year, Macy’s announced it was acquiring Story, a retail space that changes its concept and merchandise every four to six weeks. Story’s founder Rachel Shechtman, now Macy’s brand experience officer, has been tasked with bringing the experiential nature of the concept into Macy’s department stores throughout the country.