Wholefoods Market Inc. (WFM) has successfully earned double digits revenues over the past 25 years and are today known to be a leader in the organic supermarket industry (approximately $4.7 Billion industry) (Organic Trade Associate, 2014). Their Core Values include: 1) Caring about the community and the environment, 2) Promoting healthy eating and education to our stakeholders, 2) Selling highest quality organics and natural foods available, and 3) Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers (Wholefoods Market, 2014a). The company is steadily ranked one of the top socially responsible businesses and celebrates 4th ranking on Green Power Partnership from Environmental Protection Agency (Wholefoods Market, 2014b) Wholefoods Marketing Mix
A typical WFM carries over 2,600 natural and organic products that include produces, seafood, grocery, meat/poultry, baked goods, prepared foods & catering, coffee & tea, nutritional supplements, body care, educational products, floral, pet food & products, and household goods (Wholefoods, 2014d). Each store is able to source products through local traders and producers, engaging in significant amount of local trade and product sourcing. In addition, the company also imports from international suppliers that are carefully selected and meet WFM and local standards. WFM also offers its own line of product called 365 Everyday Value that meet Wholefoods quality standards. (Wholefoods Market, 2014c). Price
Natural and Organic foods have higher prices due to stringent regulations, approval stamps ( e.g. USDA certified organic), and shorter shelf life. (Investors Group, 2012). WFM pricing is valued according to the quality of the products they carry. “The price of the product is considered through determining the cost of making the product, the salaries of people producing the product, the cost of operation and the other expenses made in the creation of the product” (Investors Group, 2012). With this price strategy WFM maintains and ensure the product to be of high quality and longer durability. The 365 Everyday Values gives consumers a choice to purchase WFM’s own brand at a lower cost and in 2011 the value brand accounted for approximately 11% of total sales. (Investors Group, 2012) Promotion
WFM has a very strong Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) program. This is perhaps one of main reasons for their success. Some of the frequently used promotion tactics includes: Online promotion, Social Media, News Papers, Television, Magazines, Public relations, Community Event, Sponsorships, Contests, and their own stores and employees as brand ambassadors. WFM has always used their communication strategy to engage customers and community and now heavily using social media as a key tool to promote their values to their customers. According to their website, WFM publishes roughly 1,000 messages per day across 900 social media channels and their overall social media footprint on Facebook and Twitter is approximately 7 million ranking their brand as number 2 (Wholefoods Market, 2014e) Place
WFM has 380 stores across Canada, United Kingdom, and United States (Wholefoods, 2014e). With 73 locations, California is by far has the maximum number of stores that wholefoods operates in a single state (Wholefoods, 2014e). This perfectly aligns with overall image of the state where healthy living, organic foods, and better living standards are well traits of the demographics and population. This trend is generally seen to be prevalent in areas where communities are more focused on healthier living and wellbeing. In addition, the design of each store is unique to reflect the location and culture of local community. (Investors Group, 2012).
Where is wholefoods in this Green/Greener/Greenest?
In my opinion WFM is at a green stage of sustainability. Although they have good initiatives in place at various levels of operations including corporate functions, marketing, and community engagement, and local business growth. However, there is definitely a scope for improvement in multiple areas, some examples are listed below: Large overall footprint: Supply Chain (Transportation Cost), Building (usage of resources) Healthier products focus: currently the product maybe natural or organic but that does not necessary mean they are healthier. E.g. high sodium or sugar foods are available at their stores Promote sustainability throughout the supply chain: assisting supplier or farmer by offering sustainability programs to sub suppliers or farmers