Values Matter (Even More Than Prices?)
Whole Foods new ad campaign features the tag: "Values Matter" and closes with "Whole Foods Market: America’s healthiest grocery store"
Whole Foods has long been called "whole paycheck" by its enemies and even by its former fans who just couldn't take the prices and had to leave. There has also been a certain amount of trust broken with consumers by WF's bloated science claims and just too much fancy food and labeling that felt out of touch with real people-your average thoughtful post-recession consumer. Additionally, the marketplace is crowded- natural foods are available in most grocery stores, farmers markets are exploding and Traders Joes continues to build its passionate base. All of this has taken a toll (and a bite out of sales) on Whole Foods. However, the people who have remained loyal and continue to shop there likely fit in the large swath of consumers I've often talked about: shared values seekers. These consumers want to invest with brands who share their values and when they find those brands they are less price sensitive and fiercely loyal.
In an effort to win back some consumer love and to shift attention towards their business practices and away from their prices, Whole Foods will launch its first ever national campaign next week. The campaign is wholly aligned with consumer momentum that I've been tracking in the marketplace around shared values (and that Michael Porter continues to publish about). Their campaign sports a tag: "Values Matter" and talks about the two kinds of values resonating most with their current and potential customers- monetary values and values of the company regarding sourcing,ethics and employee care.
The suite of videos posted to YouTube is prefaced with the intro:
"For those who are hungry for better or simply food-curious, we offer to you a smorgasbord of how it’s possible to shop where value is inseparable from values. Hint: we define health beyond the self, to also encompass the greater good."
With all of this focus on value, the Whole Foods consumer might want to be told why the prices are what they are-- why it costs so much to do business right with more details for the curious customer. We'll see if Whole Foods is ready to address that head on -perhaps in a second phase of their campaign.
For now, Whole Foods isn't trying to compete on price but instead it is surfacing its company story and putting its values front and center with hopes to hold onto the consumers they've got and perhaps win over some new consumers who want to invest their monies and mindshare with companies that talk about values on par with economic value. For many consumers today, they are now one in the same.