Whole Foods Struggles to Move Past ‘Whole Paycheck’ Reputation

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Supermarket sweeps.
Supermarket sweeps. Photo: Whole Foods

The natural and organic grocery-store giant has taken some pages from the social-media playbooks of other companies, all in order to push sales of less expensive products like frozen meatballs, The Wall Street Journal reports. High-end products like dry-aged and grass-fed beef are still on offer, and Whole Foods is still aiming to make in-store GMO food labels mandatory, but the 350-unit chain is also preoccupied these days with beating out other natural grocers and traditional supermarkets that are expanding into similar territory.

Supermarket sweeps.
Supermarket sweeps. Photo: Whole Foods

How are they competing? With flash sales, apparently, and a blitz of limited-time deals promoted on Twitter and Facebook. Because the chain’s stock price recently reached a new split-adjusted all-time high of $56.80 compared to a low of $4.27 in late 2008, the Journal notes, the strategy seems to be working, but even still, the numbers aren’t great compared to the competitors’, and there may even eventually be a price to pay for all those deep discounts: Customers "trained" to look for deals often become picky and ignore full-priced products on the same shelves, which of course doesn’t help growth, and meanwhile, its new era of economy-size accessibility may just move Whole Foods one step closer to becoming just a regular old supermarket.

Whole Foods’ Battle for the Organic Shopper [WSJ]
Related: Whole Foods to Label All Genetically Modified Foods