Complete this sentence: Whole Foods is ______________

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How you complete this sentence might just foreshadow the future success of Whole Foods as it considers entering the health and wellness resort business. You can see the story here at NY Daily News.

Any and all operational capabilities aside, their ability to deliver a desirable and relatable proposition starts with degree of brand “permission.” How much permission we, as Whole Foods customers, fans or fanatics give them to extend their brand into this arena.

Which circles back to how you filled in the blank. And not to limit your choices, but here’s a general framework for you to consider. Is Whole Foods a product-based, expertise-based or philosophy-based brand idea?

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Is it a grocery brand, an expert purveyor of organic, natural, healthy foods or a brand defined by a deeper philosophy? Likewise, is it functionally-based or is it emotionally-charged? Not up to me to say, but they’ll cover the necessary bases to find out.

If you read the article, you’ll see that there’s a comparison to Canyon Ranch. Though not sure this is the most appropriate or wisest comparison, as Canyon’s roots are in spa/health and wellness, so their’s was a natural progression to integrate “eating habits” into their program.

Relative to other grocery retailers, Whole Foods does stand apart. It’s driven by, and delivers on, a strong set of value and beliefs. It hasn’t strayed from selections which advance a healthy lifestyle. It does business with a strong sense of purpose. Is this enough “permission”, we’ll see.

What’s your point-of-view?

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand and marketing firm specializing in creating momentum for businesses across the health + wellness continuum. The common threads are consumers who want to get well, stay well and play well, and brands that fulfill these aspirations and goals.

5 thoughts on “Complete this sentence: Whole Foods is ______________

  1. My frist reaction to filling in this blank is “expensive”, but there is no doubt that they have proven to be worth the extra money to their consumers. Goes to show you that their is true value in what the brand offers. In a world where people are watching every penny, the Whole Foods brand and experience is perceived as being worth the expense.

  2. To me Whole foods is a Philosophy based brand idea. I agree with Chris, I usually don’t enter a Whole foods unless I’m willing to part with $50. But when I do go I believe I’m getting something better for me than I would at A&P or Shoprite.

  3. Whole Foods is a unique brand that has created a real movement in terms of healthy/organic choices that extend beyond food. I do believe that they can leverage their healthy eating, lifestyle expertise and clear vision to extend to a more full-service healthy lifestyle brand. Even their motto — Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet — emphasizes that their vision reaches far beyond just being a food retailer. I really like the idea of teaching people how to live a healthier life, but I think they will have to really leverage their premium, quality philosophy if they want to deliver a meaningful experience as a full-service destination health/spa (i.e. food, fitness, services, education). I personally have been to Canyon Ranch a few times, and they truly deliver on the healthy lifestyle approach. Their dietary recommendations, education and healthy meals are only one of their many support services that deliver on their overall promise. I believe Whole Foods would potentially have to consider a sub-brand strategy to leverage all that is great about the master brand, but more effectively focuses on and communicates the 360 healthy lifestyle experience they are hoping to create as a destination.

  4. My opinion, which differs from the other comments, is Whole Foods is not worth the money. I am very much into eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and only eat meat that is grain-fed and hormone-free but I can find that in other stores (or local farmer’s markets) for half the price. I don’t think Whole Foods has the permission to enter the spa industry but would be better if they partnered with health systems to help patients learn how to eat healthy and make smart choices at the grocery store.

  5. My word to complete the sentence is “Amazing”. I’ve been a Whole Foods fan and customer for many years and for me and my wife it has always been worth the “higher prices”. However, what many (including some of my colleagues who commented above) may not know is that Whole Foods has MANY products that are actually cheaper, compared to Stop & Shop, among others. We definitely don’t buy everything there, however, we definitely do the bulk of it there. Years ago, we found ourselves spending a huge amount of time reading labels for high fructose corn syrup, saturated fats, processed this or that, etc., so the value for us to go to Whole Foods was first and foremost, our interest in eating healthier organic foods and second, to save a HUGE amount of time shopping. Whole Foods does much (if not most) of the shopping leg-work for us, giving us more quality time with the kids, staying outdoors, etc. (lifestyle benefits).

    Whole Foods in Miami has a section for chair massages which I thought was a great idea. You can get a relaxed chair massage, and then eat a healthy lunch and leave feeling much better and less stressed than at most super markets (it also prepares you for the usual parking-lot challenges). As far as a Whole Foods branded spa, I believe the brand name and identity may have possible sub-brand opportunities, .e.g. Whole Foods, Whole Body, Whole Spirit, Whole Life. However, I believe a Whole Foods branded spa/resort is going to be a leap of faith. When we go to higher-end spas (Canyon Ranch, etc.) for me, the best quality products available and for most spas, the best quality food is a given. So, I’m not 100% sold on the idea, however, I am interested to see where they go with it and the brand experience they ultimately develop. In the meantime, I’m still a fan and happy customer of their core business.

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