Reclaiming their Own Niche – Whole Foods swaps affluence for health as recession trudges along1 Comment
WF has been doing a familiar dance
“We do not believe we are marketing to an upper-income customer. We have never believed that. We are primarily marketing to a well-educated customer, a customer who has made a lifestyle change and that tends to correlate in terms of healthy eating with being a better informed customer, better educated.”
To meet this statement
So where is Mackey taking the adoring masses of WF devotees with this statement and his plans for the upcoming year?
Whole Foods has a common nickname, “Whole Paycheck”, because that’s what you spend within its walls. This time around, Whole Foods might be embracing their nickname as who they are, and reframing it as a good thing.
My guess: Whole Foods is on a mission to “shift the share of the paycheck.” Said plainly, WF is campaigning for folks to spend a larger percent of their paycheck on “whole foods,” a campaign that’s carried out through simple health education. They’re not lowering prices, they’re building value and integrity around the prices they already have, and congratulating shoppers for taking part. When you consider that WF is a kind of aspirational mecca for many, Mackey’s statement is almost a challenge or a call to action to the mass audience to be part of enlightened shopper-hood.
From a business perspective, it’s a great idea, and from a sustainability perspective not entirely a bad idea. Granted, WF is expensive, but eating “whole foods” is priceless, especially when you’re taking the time to cook yourself. If WF is either the only or the most convenient way a consumer can get healthy organic produce into their lives and their families’ lives – all the better for all, right?
All in all, this new positioning, while strategic, will need quite a bit of qualifying as they forward. Whole Foods may not “believe” they are “marketing” to the upper-income customer, but they are certainly serving him or her.
As a Whole Foods customer, when my bill comes out to $35 for a box of cereal three fish filets, a bag of almonds and a bunch of kale, and I’m actually excited about it (!), I can consider myself to be an informed customer, a well educated customer and an upper-income customer – and I hope that Whole Foods will be transparent enough to admit that about me too.
Update, 8/25/09: After singing its new tune to consumers, Whole Foods quickly alienates both affluent and health-conscious shoppers with CEO John Mackey’s anti-healthcare bill op-edperception
- Kate Cook, Brand Strategist, Saatchi & Saathchi S