New DTC toolkit   //   October 9, 2023

With Marlow’s launch at Walmart, Brooklinen expands its sales channels

Luxury bedding brand Brooklinen is on a mission to acquire new customers by way of expanding and growing its sales channels.

Starting this week, Brooklinen’s sub-brand Marlow — which offers pillows and pillow protectors — will be available at over 1,000 stores across the country. Brooklinen’s svp of emerging channels Kelly Hallinan said that Marlow was launched in 2021 with the intention to have it distributed in wholesale retail. Marlow’s entry to Walmart marks the company’s first traditional wholesale partnership.

Through Marlow’s partnership with Walmart, Brooklinen opens a new sales channel for the company — one of a few that it has been developing over the years. Brooklinen has a business-to-business channel, called Brooklinen for Business, which has seen 60% year-over-year channel growth as of August from clients like hotels and Airbnb hosts. Revenue for its Brooklinen on Amazon business has grown 29% year-over-year, while its curated marketplace channel has grown 150% year-over-year in the last two years. The company declined to share what portion of its revenue comes from its DTC business compared to the other channels.

“Walmart offers so much opportunity from a branding perspective for us,” Hallinan said. “With Marlow, we want to make sure that we can reach our customers where they are.”

Brooklinen was first launched in 2014, and since then, growth has been a big focus for the business. The brand — which offers around 5,000 SKUs, including bed sheets, comforters and loungewear — said last year that its revenue is “well into nine figures.”

Although the company has been around longer than many DTC brands, the company is just now starting to expand into wholesale. Two Marlow SKUs, The standard size and a king size pillow, will be available in Walmart stores. Brooklinen said it doesn’t have plans to sell its non-Marlow products via wholesale at stores like Walmart at this time.  

“We realized that it was another avenue and another way to reach our customers, particularly for the Marlow brand,” Hallinan said. “But another reason that we waited was because we wanted to mature as a brand before we started entering wholesale.”

Part of Brooklinen’s channel expansion strategy appears to be developing products that it believes would be in high demand for certain sales channels. For example, Marlow’s product design and packaging were made to appeal to big-box shoppers. It also launched a hospitality collection for its Brooklinen for Business clients. Its hospitality collection features products that are suitable for commercial washing levels and is only available for its business clients.

The company started expanding to sales channels beyond its website in 2016 and has since continued to explore new ones. For example, it inked partnerships with registry sites Zola and The Knot after receiving requests from shoppers to list Brooklinen items as preferred wedding gifts. These new partnerships would allow Brooklinen to grow its curated marketplace channel.

“Right now, we’re feeling really confident in our channel mix and just where we’re going to go from here,” Hallinan said. 

The home goods category is a competitive market so it’s no surprise that Brooklinen is attempting to find new sales channels, said Rebekah Kondrat, founder of Kondrat Retail. She added that when brands stick to one sales channel, at some point they could hit a ceiling for the amount of customers they could acquire. 

“They’re in a very crowded space,” she said. “They’re competing for brain space in the customers’ minds.” 

However, when retailers expand their sales channels, she said that creates more operational challenges. She said retailers need the capital and bandwidth to manage each channel. Retailers also have to create a new marketing strategy to drive sales to specific channels.

Although Brooklinen is open to entering new channels, Hallinan said that the company is “feeling good” about the sales channels it currently has. 

“I see [the channels] continuing to grow and optimize from an operational standpoint,” she said. “In wholesale, for example, we can consider entering potential new partnerships, though that’s not on the roadmap currently, but if we’re talking way into the future, that’s always an option.”