Jody Pinson

Jody Pinson, an executive who is credited with the modernization of Walmart’s beauty department, has retired.

Until this month, Pinson had been the retailer’s vice president of merchandising for beauty, a position she’d held since 2013.

Under Pinson, Walmart in the last few years has aggressively shifted its beauty strategy, bringing on thousands of new brands and products in efforts to offer a more modern, differentiated and trend-driven assortment. Many of the retailer’s beauty floors have been enhanced with better lighting and tech features. Influencers now participate in campaigns touting Walmart’s beauty department.

“Jody led a transformation in Walmart’s beauty category resulting in broader assortment and access to on-trend beauty products previously unavailable at Walmart,” a spokesperson for the company wrote to WWD.

“[She] has left an indelible impression on our company. Known as a merchant’s merchant and the work she’s done to fine-tune assortments and develop leaders across the enterprise is to be appreciated.”

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At Walmart, Pinson was tasked with evolving the beauty department to better compete with online and specialty retailers like Ulta Beauty, at a time when drugstores and legacy mass beauty brands like Olay and Revlon were struggling to retain a young consumer base.

She was known for balancing exclusive offerings from legacy brands with trends like sheet masks sourced from South Korea, a broadened assortment of textured hair products and offerings that would be distinct to Walmart, such as an in-house clean beauty brand called Found.

“Anytime you’re dealing with such a massive department, you can quickly get overloaded. But I always start with the customer,” Pinson told WWD in a 2019 interview. “She’s changing, social media is changing….The challenge for Walmart and many other retailers is how do we tailor our assortment across 4,500 stores? We talk a lot about gaining credibility in a low-cost environment.”

Pinson worked at Walmart for 29 years, and it was in a sense the family business — her father at one point had worked for the retailer. She started as an hourly cashier at Sam’s Club, and worked her way up to the management training program. As a buyer, she held roles across the stationery, sporting goods and pet care department before landing in beauty, where her gut instincts and keen understanding of the Walmart shopper aided her evolution of the department.

“We use data to understand how business is trending, but it isn’t going to tell you what’s going to happen in the future,” Pinson said in that same interview.

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