Natural Foods Marketer Plays Price Game

According to the New York Times, Austin-based Whole Foods is embarking on a mission to change a fundemental consumer perception—that the store is exceedingly expensive.

For the next 10 weeks, Whole Foods is running print advertisements in New York City emphasizing “value” and “deals” — two words not generally associated with the chain that inspired the quip “Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck.”
Portraying itself as inexpensive, however, could prove tricky for Whole Foods. After all, the chain’s perceived elitism — encouraged by the company or not — has earned it a cultlike following among well-heeled, health-obsessed professionals, who consider it a badge of honor to buy their fair-trade organic coffee, cage-free eggs and hydrogenated-oil-free cookies there.
The ads “are inconsistent with what the brand stands for,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a corporate identity consultant that is part of the WPP Group. “The reality is that they have a premium-looking store positioned as an all natural place to shop. Both of those signal ‘expensive.’ “

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Five bucks says this is a defensive perception-hedge against Wal-Mart soon entering the organic foods market.
    And with all due respect to Mssr. Adamson, I don’t get the idea he’s ever visited Whole Foods Mecca (otherwise known as Austin, Texas). My guess is whomever is doing the brand consultancy work for Whole Foods isn’t attached to WPP.

  2. Pow.
    Next up on The Amazing Crespin’s plate, a visit to the racetrack…