Fascinating piece of journalism in Fast Company. Author Martin Lindstrom has broken down the methods Whole Foods uses to pluck your hard earned wages directly from your wallet and into their corporate coffers. We have no dog in this fight. We went into Whole Foods once years ago, noted how prettily everything was displayed and how expensively everything was priced and then left.
We probably drove straight to Fiesta Mart at that point but don’t recall.
If we pulled in 7 figures we’d probably be right there alongside our well heeled readership.
But Martin Lindstrom is not so easily dissuaded. He went shopping at Whole Food and issues this thesis.
Firstly he defines his terms. The thrust of the article is “have you ever been primed?” which is to say, subconsciously influenced without your ever being the wiser?
We’re guessing we all have, that’s the whole point of advertising right?
Little escapes the author’s eye. He makes his way into a Whole Foods and immediately notices the fresh flowers “fresh flowers are placed right up front–to “prime” us to think of freshness the moment we enter the store.”
Interesting. When we’re courting we often consider flowers as a gift but we generally just reach over a fence or two and grab a fistful, it would never occur to us to actually buy some.
If we ever walk into another Whole Foods we will be aware of this trick and not be swayed by it.
Next Lindstrom turns his hawklike gaze towards those little price chalkboards. Turns out they’re not really chalkboards. They’re indelibly printed and then shipped in from hq.
We fail to see the outrage on this one.
Next the author is all over the copious use of ice in the store as well as those little misters that spray the vegetable down.
We reckon the ice is meant to keep things cold but Lindstrom disagrees; “This ice is another symbolic. Similarly, for years now supermarkets have been sprinkling select vegetables with regular drops of water–a trend that began in Denmark. Why? Like ice displays, those sprinkled drops serve as a symbolic, albeit a bogus one, of freshness and purity.”
Here, here. Enough of these misters. They just make you buy vegetables that are heavy with water so you’re not getting a true weight when you check out.
We’re against this practice.
The author then goes off on a tangent about bananas and apples that we get totally lost in and are not sure that it even applies to his article at all.
Back on track he begins discussing cardboard boxes that are ubiquitous in grocery stores “These boxes could have been unpacked easily by any one of Whole Foods’ employees, but they’re left that way on purpose. Why? For that rustic, aw-shucks touch. In other words, it’s a symbolic to reinforce the idea of old-time simplicity.”
But then he makes an awful discovery. These boxes aren’t real, they’re in actuality, one “humongous” box, made “(most likely by some industrial machinery at a factory in China).”
He loses us here with his phrase “most likely”.
That’s lazy journalism. Prowl around a little bit and find out where the damn box was made, don’t just throw the word China around to try and scare the reader.
We have mixed feelings on this article. It’s a good read, Lindstrom makes some valid points and Whole Foods does make a great bogeyman for any number of reasons but ultimately we found the article unsatisfying.
Just like our one visit to Whole Foods market.
Article link in comments below.