By Joel M. Albrizio, President
"A Perfect Time To Tell Us Who You Are"
Lets take a look behind the curtain of Whole Foods. Whole Foods, often referred to in jest as "Whole Paycheck". Whole Foods has had a proud past of bringing only the best to market.
While servicing a customer base willing to pay a premium for only the the best, the freshest, the safest products we have been hammered home the brand built by and on "TRUST".
While avoiding the good and the bad of this brand based on trust over the last year or two we can all certainly agree to some degree the bloom is off the rose. Where does and will Whole Foods go from here? Does it begin to look for the business model with lower prices?....It has? Does it slip and stay at this new level of brand compromised?
If this new vision of a brand compromised is not acceptable to the likes of a John Mackey and Whole Foods many stockholders how does it recover its brand and its prestige in such a difficult retail food pricing environment.
Lets take a step back, the marketplace has changed from the early days of Whole Foods where now even the biggest discounters like Walmart sell organics. There seems to be a raised low water mark for quality and service in every aspect of food retail.
A new world where one of Starbuck's biggest competitors in coffee is McDonalds! Who would have thought?
For Whole Foods to fully recover it's brand and begin a new growth story they must once again define their brand. They are now at the crossroads of testing a new, smaller, simpler version of Whole Foods with lower prices. Many retailers like Ahold are searching as well for the new approach to regain the consumer.
Is that really the answer?
We believe to begin again Whole Foods must first commit to tell their new story. A story that might appeal to a larger base of consumers interested in a healthy lifestyle within an attainable shopping budget.
In committing to a broader base, this strict regimen of quality without compromise could be explained to the consumer more often and in more areas. Why and where its most important to look again to Whole Foods and for what products.
Increased information could lead to an environment where this new beginning could regain the "Brand Trust" and a better understanding of why Whole Foods continues to be a relevant shopping option.
To regain a voice in the marketplace beyond the word of mouth, John Mackey and Whole Foods could interject some new talking points about
"This is where Whole Foods was, this is where we are going and this is who we are"
In short, Whole Foods needs to give the shopper new reasons to either continue or to begin shopping Whole Foods. There are so many similar offerings.
We are certain Whole Foods can survive but will they have the opportunity to once again thrive? They will thrive when they define the reason Whole Foods began, became successful and still exists.
This is storytelling, todays interpretation of marketing or "Branding". Whole Foods has a great story to tell when they are ready. For sure, the time is now.
The story could go something like this...
We need a grocer to be the standard bearer for quality and health in the supermarket space. Whole Foods has brought a product consciousness to the marketplace that otherwise might never exist.
We all enjoy better quality, nutritional information and a general understanding regardless of where we shop because John Mackey and Whole Foods taught supermarkets a better way.
Perhaps you could try Whole Foods again and you'll find you can't afford not to shop Whole Foods.
Thats a great story and one that could be told.
Thank-you for all of your e-mails and responses.