Whole Foods is known for pricey organics, but the high-end grocer is starting to employ techniques of its cheaper counterparts to lure new customers.
Whole Foods generally takes the (gluten-free and locally sourced) cake for pricey organics, but according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the upscale grocer is reforming its ways to appeal to more than just the average wealthy foodie. In fact, the brand has begun to employ common discounting methods such as flash sales and "buy one, get one" deals to draw in customers.
Whole Foods may undoubtedly still be a leader in the organic food movement, but the chain now faces stiffer competition from discount grocers like Kroger, which have begun to carry high-end goods at reasonable prices. Coupled with an unwieldy recession, the once exclusive produce and grocery market is seeing the benefit of discounting products in a universally budget conscious environment.
Flash Sales & Social Media Bring Discounts to Organic Food
As a result of the current economic climate, organic shoppers can now snag deals via the Whole Foods Twitter and Facebook accounts, which regularly post about sales. These social announcements include discounts on everything from Organic Valley 12-packs of milk to whole roasted chicken, as well as time-sensitive promotions, like a 5-hour buy one, get one free deal on ice cream. According to the WSJ, the brand is increasing its volume of one-day sales on items to a total of 17 this year, up from 14. But that's not all: the chain is also stocking up on "lower brow" items like frozen meatballs and vacuum-packed fish fillets.
The switch in strategy may be fruitful: Whole Foods stock recently reached a new all-time high. However, rivals like Kroger have seen increases in shares of up to 44%; when compared to Whole Foods' 15% increase, Kroger's jump reinforces the trend in consumer demand for more affordable quality food.
Though the recent push for cost-saving sales is unprecedented in Whole Foods history, it isn't the first time the chain has employed discounts. Since 2008, a bi-monthly booklet called "The Whole Deal" has provided customers with coupons, budget-friendly recipes, and money-saving tips. The latest issue has more than $53 in coupons, 13 "Sure Deals," and financial tips for going back to school. "Value gurus" help shoppers save in various departments, with advice that includes shopping the bulk bins for oats, seeds, and dried fruits to make homemade granola bars. Most regular shoppers also take advantage of the prepared food specials on various days of the week. (For example, customers can score a $10 one-topping pizza special on Wednesdays in select locations across the nation.)
According to the WSJ, Whole Foods is also set to engage in price-matching against select competitors. But despite these promotions, that doesn't mean the flash sales will become as frequent as standard grocery stores, with management quick to make sure that customers don't get too accustomed to widespread sales and deals on a regular basis. The company's focus on healthy, organic food remains the driving incentive for customers to foot a heftier bill.
For customers, though, the flash deals and saving opportunities are sure to appeal to thrifty and conscious food eaters alike. Readers, are you a budget-minded shoppers who only eats healthily? If so, have you noticed any of these special promotions at Whole Foods recently? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Summar Ghias is a contributor to Dealnews.com, where this article first appeared.