Pitch Brief: Whole Foods & The Millennial Foodie


By Max

Whole Foods, the upscale grocery store chain, just launched a media agency review – a common occurrence when a brand experiences an entire year of declining sales. Sales at Whole Foods have been slowly, yet steadily, decreasing, like so much kombucha dribbling out of a leaky bottle. The trouble? In a way, it’s that Whole Foods marketing has been too successful.
In their 36 years of operation, Whole Foods was one of the first and loudest supporters of organic, sustainable meats and produce, and much of their success is because they successfully persuaded America that organic = better. 

What happens when you sell America on an idea? Everyone starts doing it. Therein lies the problem.

Shoppers can get high quality, organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, non-GMO, etc. just about anywhere. Whole Foods is now in competition with mainstream supermarkets, like Kroger markets and Safeway (as well as Trader Joe’s and Sprouts).

The new media agency is going to have a challenge on their hands, because the store’s primary differentiator isn’t a differentiator anymore.

But, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

Current Trends & Experiments

Whole Foods has been trying a number of new schemes to appeal to the Millennial shopper, like installing bike repair shops in some stores, a spa in another store, and even a putting green in their Augusta, Georgia location. This is in keeping with a quickly building trend across all consumer-based industries: Experiential retailing.
Whole Foods Marketing Activities
Is that enough to get people in the door when consumers are increasingly ordering their groceries online?
(See the rising market share of online grocery sales in our free pitch brief).

Consider this. Currently, the number-one reason consumers choose their primary grocer is proximity to where they live or work. It’s all about convenience – and what is more convenient than groceries (and gourmet meal kits) delivered directly to your door?

As of October, 2016, Whole Foods is experimenting with partnering with the e-commerce vegan meal kit delivery service, Purple Carrot, to carry their meal kits in Whole Foods stores. Purple Carrot meets a new audience, and Whole Foods lures back Purple Carrots Millennial vegan consumer base. It seems promising.

But, you’ll need to come up with ideas that are just as fresh as Whole Foods’ Edenic produce section if you want to win this bid, so let’s take a closer look at the audience they’re courting.


Meet the Millennial Grocery ShoppersMillennial Grocery Shoppers - Millennials grocery shopping demographics

We looked at the segment of Millennial grocery shoppers who are NOT currently shopping at Whole Foods, but rather opting for the brand’s competitors. By doing this, we get a little insight into what the competitors have that Whole Foods doesn’t.

The Millennial grocery shopper is usually female (67%), sometimes married (42%, with children (62%) and falls into the Foodie and Health Conscious interest categories. They not only care about what they eat, but also what’s in what they eat, and that is true whether they shop at Safeway or Sprouts.

Living a healthy lifestyle is important to them, and they also share a strong predilection towards aesthetics – they like to look good themselves, and they like their homes to look good, too. They score high in the Beauty & Wellness and Home Decorators & DIYs interest groups.

And here’s a very fun fact: This audience of non-Whole Foods shopping Millennials overlaps in top interests with their Whole Foods consumer counterparts by 80%. Really, the only difference is where they shop. Which means, this audience is primed for conversion.

While they share interests, Whole Foods shoppers are more interested – they score higher – in each category. For example, while the Millennial grocery shopper scores 181.5 popularity in the Thoughtful Eaters category, the Whole Foods shoppers score 198.2. They share the same desires – one group just needs to be nurtured a little more.

To do that, you have to reach them.

Our research shows that the Millennial grocery shopper watches Home & Leisure shows, reads Home & Garden magazines, and are heavily interested in Home Decorating & DIY (Whole Foods shoppers are too, but even more).

Based on this data, you might suggest an experiential tactic, like hosting a DIY Home Decorating class at a Whole Foods location – or capitalize on the Beauty interest with a promotional makeover event. Online groceries can’t beat that!


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Topics: Knowledge; Infographic; New Business Pitch