Creating New Brand & Customer Energy: Whole Foods Wellness Club

Whole Foods is opening its first wellness club in Dedham, Mass. It’s intended to “not only show and tell us what’s good for us but also how to prepare it.”

Here’s the facebook page link, and a statement of its mission.

Club member benefits (which come at a cost) include reference library, lifestyle evaluation, chef training on how to prepare healthy dishes, courses and lectures developed by medical doctors, inspirational and informative skill-building classes, supper clubs and special events, coaching and support. Products that meet the club’s “code of health” carry a Wellness Club seal of approval.

The grocer intends to open four other Wellness Clubs before the end of the year — in NY; Chicago; Oakland, CA; and Princeton, N.J. “If the prototypes do well, we would open more in 2012 as part of a growth initiative,” says John Mackey, chairman and co-CEO.

Here’s what I like about this extension:

Brand Fit. It’s a strong (genuine and perceptual) fit with the Whole Foods brand mission (making a difference in the lives of our Team Members and the customers we serve, and in the communities and environments in which we operate) and motto (Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet).

On Trend. It rides a seemingly boundless trend of proactively managing our health & wellness, particularly important among Whole Foods’ core target demo of Boomers; and more specifically, those who appreciate the role natural/organic foods can play in helping you live a healthier life.

More Meaning. It makes Whole Foods more integral to the daily lives of its customers, beyond a grocery retailer to a brand that now participates in helping them (through its actions) take more control of their lives, and get to where they want to go.

Differentiation. The Club adds yet another dimension of distinction to a brand that was already unique in its offering, positioning and equity versus other grocers.

Experience. It provides an even more “wow” in-store experience for members and (prospective member) shoppers, beyond the already sensory experience that is Whole Foods.

Long-term Value. It builds short-term revenue and (hopefully) sustainable long-term value of the Whole Foods brand.

What do you think about the impact of Wellness Club – on Whole Foods, its customers and competitors?