Last week, it was Starbucks. Now, in in today’s New York Times comes a look at how success and growth has put Whole Foods under greater scrutiny:
“They are at such a level you expect the best from them, and if you don’t live up to it, people notice,” said Todd Hale, a senior vice president of consumer and shopper insights for Nielsen, the market research company. “Being first gives you a competitive advantage. But it also means somebody is going to follow you and catch up with you.”
Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop Consulting, a retail food consulting firm, said that Whole Foods has drifted toward the middle, which has made the store more popular with a broader range of people. Many of today’s Whole Foods shoppers are more interested in prepared foods than in whether the eggs are organic. But that carries a downside. “The folks truly devoted to organic and natural can’t get them all in Whole Foods and have to go somewhere else,” he said.
Reading articles like these always makes me think of the old Jay Chiat saying: “How big can we get before we get bad?”
To me Whole Foods isn’t bad–but it isn’t what it started out to be.