Will content help Publix and Whole Foods cook up online engagement?

Discussion
Source: Publix
Jan 11, 2019
Tom Ryan

Publix and Whole Foods Market are looking to connect online with customers by offering content that results in more enjoyable meals.

Publix is getting set to debut online cooking classes while Whole Foods has rolled out a dietary catalog on its site to help consumers sort products by their dietary needs.

At Publix, the first Aprons Cooking School class premieres Jan. 12 on YouTube and will be led by two Publix Aprons Cooking School chefs. The first episode details how to prep, cook and assemble three meals using an oven-roasted chicken.

During the class, participating viewers can submit comments and questions to chefs in a live chat. Publix made the recipes and a shopping list available ahead of time. Future classes will be held the second Saturday of each month. Each online class is free.

The online classes build on Publix’s “Aprons Simple Meal” recipes featured online as well as Apron Staff classes featured in store. Prices for the in–store classes, which include meal tastings, range from $45 to $65 each.

Whole Foods and some other grocers, as well as sellers of kitchen appliances such as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La table and Macy’s, have offered in-store cooking classes, but Publix appears to be ahead of the curve by offering classes online.

Whole Foods debuted a new digital catalog at the start of the year providing a quick way for consumers to access product ingredient lists and nutritional information. Shoppers can filter their searches by product category, dietary preference, what‘s on sale and Amazon Prime member deals. Search results display a photo of the product, its nutrition fact panel and ingredients list, as well as diet and allergen tags in drop down menus.

“This new experience makes it easier than ever for those customers to find products that fit their needs from dietary preferences to lifestyle changes, and ultimately helps them achieve their wellness goals,” said Jason Buechel, EVP of technology and chief information officer for Whole Foods, in a statement.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which do you see resonating most with consumers: Publix’s online cooking classes or Whole Foods’ digital product catalog? What type of online content will consumers expect from grocers in the years ahead?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Video and live streaming content via Instagram are on fire right now, and supermarkets would be wise to jump on this moving train."
"Content generation is an expensive proposition, but this is all about elevating above grocery commoditization and impacting the customer earlier in the buying decisions."
"What resonates most with customers depends on the customer."

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6 Comments on "Will content help Publix and Whole Foods cook up online engagement?"


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Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

At first glance it appears that Publix’s online cooking class will resonate well with consumers. After all, we are the YouTube generation and Publix has developed a customized YouTube cooking class experience. Given that viewers have the option to watch later or share the cooking class video, this is a huge step up from standing in the store and observing an Aprons’ prepared meal.

On the other hand, kudos to Whole Foods for the development of a digital product catalog. This technology appears to solve a different set of problems from the Publix online class.

Both of these technologies will set the bar for future online content.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

In our DIY society, cooking and spending time with family is one of the more popular experiences to share together. Publix is taking the right approach with their online video cooking classes, as it resonates with our society that is on the go, with limited time. Storytelling is key to driving interest and customers to your grocery store.

While digital catalogs are certainly going to resonate with Whole Foods customers, online cooking and on-demand cooking classes will draw interest, engagement, and will enable Publix and their brands to build tighter relationships with their customers. Video and live streaming content via Instagram are on fire right now, and supermarkets would be wise to jump on this moving train.

Matt Sebek
BrainTrust

Content generation is an expensive proposition, but this is all about elevating above grocery commoditization and impacting the customer earlier in the buying decisions.

As this matures, I’m looking for brands that seamlessly integrate this type of content into other digital channels that provide surprise and delight; for instance, automatically adding ingredients seen in (liked/preferred) videos to my shopping list.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

What resonates most with customers depends on the customer. Online cooking classes and digital product catalogs are both great ways to engage with customers and premium grocers should consider offering both. Consumers are accustomed to using YouTube to learn how to do anything and bringing cooking classes right to your home (for free) and streaming them as well, is a convenient way for consumers to learn how to cook new meals.

This is a great value add for Publix customers and when they enjoy the delicious meal, they will think of Publix – elevating the brand perception and increasing loyalty.

Whole Foods digital product catalog will appeal to customers that are very conscious of ingredients from a health, dietary or allergy perspective. This will make it easier to create their shopping list of product that meet their requirements.

I believe both approaches should be offered.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Online content is a popular marketing strategy. It’s best to create content that is more about value than about promotion. When it’s fresh (hot, out of the oven kind of content — couldn’t resist the metaphor), it will endear the customer to the retailer. It keeps the retailer front-of-mind.

For Publix, their online cooking classes are a natural extension of what they sell — groceries (and more). For Whole Foods, what can they offer to make their product catalog, which is very promotional, to be a resource that customers will want to go back to again and again? (They may have already done that. I haven’t seen the catalog.)

In short, if you want to build a better relationship with customers, offer them something (content) that is valuable, relevant and usable.

Min-Jee Hwang
Guest

Both Publix and Whole Foods’ efforts are good, but Publix is definitely the more engaging option. It’s interactive, visual, on-demand, and on brand. While I don’t think consumers expect content from grocers just yet, in the future they could easily enjoy more video tutorials, classes, and information like what both Publix and Whole Foods are doing.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Video and live streaming content via Instagram are on fire right now, and supermarkets would be wise to jump on this moving train."
"Content generation is an expensive proposition, but this is all about elevating above grocery commoditization and impacting the customer earlier in the buying decisions."
"What resonates most with customers depends on the customer."

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