"Whole Foods Talks Dollars and Cents"

The New York Times seems to be reporting a lot about food and groceries lately. As we were going through our newspaper pile today we came across this article (that we had intended on writing about earlier) with the title "Whole Foods Talks Dollars and Sense." On the heels of our recent article which discussed Wal-Mart Going Organic, Whole Foods recently announced that in addition to their organic and fresh reputation, they want to add something else to their list of specialties: low prices. For the next 10 weeks, Whole Foods will be running print advertisements in New York City emphasizing "value" and "deals" (see the sample left).Whole Foods says that the perception that they are more expensive than their competitors is not true and they want to set the record straight. Branding experts feel that the ads are "inconsistent with what the brand stands for" and that "the reality is that they have a premium looking store positioned as an all natural place to shop." But Christina Minardi, a Whole Foods regional president who oversees the New York market says that they are "extremely competitively priced." She feels the company is not doing a good job of getting the word out.

The New York Times reports that Business Day did a survey comparing groceries from several different national grocery stores and found that Whole Foods is, in fact, competitively priced with others like Trader Joes and Food Emporium. For example, an 8-ounced package of Philadelphia cream cheese was $1.99 at Whole Foods, $2.10 at Walgreen's and $2.99 at Food Emporium. A 15-ounce box of Kashi Crunch cereal was $2.49 at Whole Foods, $2.69 at Trader Joe's and $3.49 at Food Emporium.

The ads will be running in the City Section of the New York Times through July, which is not distributed anywhere outside of New York City. But depending on the feedback, the ads may eventually run elsewhere. Although we understand that Whole Foods wants to set the record straight, we still think that they show a disconnect with the brand. And certainly the price issue doesn't seem to have hurt them thus far. So why do people think that Whole Foods is more expensive? Andrew Wolf, a grocery industry analyst, said "If your store looks cleaner and your products are better, you can create a price image that is higher than reality. You are being punished for the good." Photos and story via ::New York Times

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