Monday, 26 September 2011

Toronto Diaries: An Organic Experience!

I happened to visit the Whole Foods grocery outlet for the first time yesterday. I did expect it to have a good range of organic and wholesome food offerings, but what came to me as a 'marketer's delight' was the way Whole Foods has built it's entire shopping experience around its core proposition of 'health via organic living'. 

First of all the grocery store has a very neat, clean and up-class environment to it (as you can see in the picture, it looks more like a cafe than a grocery store). You know that feeling you have when you think of your grocery list? Well you enter this store and you forget that dull feeling, in fact you will feel like you do when you're shopping for your favourite shoes or clothes - that's how pleasant the outlay and environment is. 

You think its a grocery store, but it's more than that. They also have hand made organic material gift section, natural ingredient cosmetics and more than that, they have a health bar - which includes an amazing Salad bar and an international cuisine bar. On the salad bar the board says 'Your Healthy Living Starts Here' 
On Saturday's the store invites you for their 'all you can eat healthy breakfast' - so you can make your Weekend grocery shopping trip a family breakfast time too! Something quite valuable to the busy working lifestyle here. It's also a great way to make your customers more 'organic loyal' by offering opportunities for them to taste and enjoy healthy eating. 

The store has an amazingly aesthetic display for each food section, be it cheese, bakery or sea food! They also have free sampling of their latest bakery or cuisine recipes. 

Another small but impressive difference was that all price tags were 'electronic'. How smart is that! Canadians would know how often stores have deals and sales on here - imagine how much paper and printing is wasted in changing prices over and over again! This is a truly  a 'green' initiative. As I said, I get excited by such things also as a marketer, because I can imagine how easily a brand could keep a check on their displayed prices at Whole Foods using their electronic pricing. I've seen the examples where brands lose out on sales because of mis-pricing by the merchandiser and it only gets detected after the loss has materialised - how often can you go to a store to physically check on each and every price in the aisle? 

When we talk about next generation shopper experience, Whole Foods is definitely one of the retailers bringing a step change! They stand for 'organic' in each and every way they sell their merchandise. Organic food is usually considered expensive to buy but if it is offered wrapped in a value added experience, I can imagine a lot of people feeling happier to invest in healthier food! 

Next weekend if you feel like breakfasting out of home and also have a boring grocery list - Whole Foods is your destination! 

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