For the first time in its 34-year history, Whole Foods Market is planning to launch a national marketing campaign—a likely indication that it’s feeling the heat from increasingly aggressive competition.
Executives first revealed plans for the campaign in July (and The Denver Post reminded us today), saying it would highlight the retailer’s leadership around quality and transparency in the natural foods marketplace.
Since then, Whole Foods has rolled out a series of additional initiatives to boost engagement with customers. Partnerships with ApplePay and grocery delivery service Instacart aim to attract younger customers and make the shopping experience more convenient. A new “Responsibly Grown” ranking system unveiled this week offers consumers more insight to the growing practices used to produce their fruits, vegetables and flowers. And the retailer is experimenting with lower produce prices in some Austin stores.
Last month, the franchise also gave in to something else it’s been holding out on for a long time: a loyalty program. It’s just being tested in a New Jersey store for now, but Bloomberg reports Whole Foods could introduce a national rewards program by late 2015.
Although Whole Foods remains the biggest player in the natural retail market, the growth of rival chains like Sprouts and Trader Joes, plus more interest in organic and natural products from big-box grocery chains, has some analysts and investors worried.
Whole Foods has already mastered brand awareness and recognition, but as natural and organic continue to move from niche to mainstream, it must now master the customer engagement and loyalty aspects.
Edited 10/20/14: See the videos for WFM's "Values Matter" campaign here.