Whole Foods Not Whole Paycheck
By George Anderson
Whole Foods is tired of being referred to as “Whole Paycheck” because of the perception the chain’s prices are higher than other grocery stores. That’s why the chain is running a series of print ads in New York that will emphasize the great deals consumers can get by shopping at its stores.
Christina Minardi, a Whole Foods regional president who oversees the New York market, told The New York Times, “We are extremely competitively priced. But we are not doing a good job of getting the word out. We are hiding it.”
The new ads that come with the tagline, “More of the good stuff. For less,” are similar in design to those previously run by the chain with the added emphasis on value and price.
As would be expected, some wonder if the new ads might diminish the perception of Whole Foods as an upscale grocer, while others believe it is the right move for the chain as it faces competition from the likes of Trader Joe’s and as conventional supermarkets move more aggressively into organic and natural products.
Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, said the new ads “are inconsistent with what the brand stands for. The reality is that they have a premium-looking store positioned as an all natural place to shop. Both of those signal ‘expensive.’ “
Andrew Wolf, a grocery industry analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, said, “The reality is that they are not a higher- priced competitor. However, if your store looks cleaner and your products are better, you can create a price image that is higher than reality. You are punished for being good.”
Mr. Wolf applauds Whole Foods for its added emphasis on price. The perception consumers have that prices are higher at a store can be “very powerful,” he said.
To his mind, Whole Foods is proactively addressing what may not currently be an issue. “They will not sit here and wait for this to become a problem,” he added.
Moderator’s Comment: What do you think about Whole Foods added emphasis on price in the New York market? Will it
benefit or hurt the chain in terms of consumer perception and ultimately in sales performance? –
George Anderson – Moderator