How Whole Foods Market "Primes" Customers to Shop

Attention sheeple ... er, shoppers! You may not know it, but if you've ever entered a Whole Foods Market, you've actually been "primed" to shop.

Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, wrote an interesting article at FastCompany about how the popular market subtly persuades its shoppers to buy things.

Take, for instance, the stylish "chalk" drawn signs:

The prices for the flowers, as for all the fresh fruits and vegetables, are scrawled in chalk on fragments of black slate--a tradition of outdoor European marketplaces. It's as if the farmer pulled up in front of Whole Foods just this morning, unloaded his produce, then hopped back in his flatbed truck to drive back upstate to his country farm. The dashed-off scrawl also suggests the price changes daily, just as it might at a roadside farm stand or local market. But in fact, most of the produce was flown in days ago, its price set at the Whole Foods corporate headquarters in Texas. Not only do the prices stay fixed, but what might look like chalk on the board is actually indelible; the signs have been mass-produced in a factory.

Link (Photo: wfmmetcalf/Flickr)

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

What you ought to know as customers of WFM is that they are hypocritical and do not stand for their organic foods, so "natural" will do. Any biotech GMO foods can be called "natural" since the word means nothing and has no legal obligation at all. We do after all have natural posions and toxins too.

Search for articles titled "Whole Foods Market Caves to Monsanto" for more info.

Also "Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: Whole Foods Market okays GMO coexistence"

I guess it all depends on whather you know the difference between natural junk and pure organics and if you do then you know quality over industry propaganda.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Nope, just a former WFM cheesemonger. There are several other Whole Foodies past and present besides me who posted on the Fast Company article.

And as for John Mackey, I'm clearly not him or I would have worked some libertarianism or anti-union sentiment into my comments. ;)

Anyway, there are ways to shop at WFM and not bust the budget - the 365 private label stuff is an especially good deal. When I was working there, we were cheaper on basic milk and other benchmark goods that customers often know the prices of than our mainstream competition. That was very much on purpose. However, many of the products sold at WFM come from smaller companies, which don't have the economies of scale of the stuff you buy at a conventional supermarket. Often they're made with more expensive ingredients. Things like expeller-pressed oil as compared to hexane-extracted oil, or organic vs. conventional ingredients add up in raw material costs and make the finished product more expensive.

Yes, you can spend a lot of money there if you try, but you can get out of there pretty cheaply if what you mostly buy is whole food ingredients to cook at home. These days, I live in a small town where there is no WFM, and we spend about $100 on groceries a week. When I was shopping at WFM exclusively, we spent about $120 a week. The difference mostly went into organic produce.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
It's not chalk, but it's not permanent. It's closer to a dry erase marker that, while prices are set before hand, can be washed-off and re-drawn when prices get reset. The only thing predetermined on the chalk boards are the prices. Each store has a graphic designer that makes the signs by hand and can choose what they think will work best for the promotion.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"The only problem is that Whole Foods prices are whole-paycheck."

That's part of the marketing strategy. Gee, the same tea costs more, they must be doing business in a more ethical way.

While it is smart to persuade buyers to buy from you, if this is done through hollow, farcical manipulation rather than more honest means, then I think it's fine to grudge that particular marketing strategy.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"How Whole Foods Market "Primes" Customers to Shop"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More