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Whole Foods $80 Bag Of Groceries

10/03/2011

Color Me Pricey

I cringe at the thought of stepping into Whole Foods. Actually, it’s more of the checking out that gives me heart burn.

Whole Foods is, in my mind, a specialty food store that exists to sell on impulse. Going to WF for one or two items that are difficult to find elsewhere invariably ends with the $80 bag of groceries.

How does that happen?

Whole Foods “primes” its customers to shop. you’re greeted by the aroma of fresh-cut flowers. It’s charming, but implicitly shoppers are thinking more about the freshness of the objects in store and how much they’ll buy. Pretty flowers are just the beginning. Here are just a few of WF’s tricks:

Ice It – Hummus and cucumber dip, for example, don’t need to be chilled, but Whole Foods insists on doing so to convey the sense of “freshness and purity.”

Boxed In – Those cardboard boxes stuffed with “anywhere from eight to ten fresh cantaloupes” are left that way purposefully “for that rustic, aw-shucks touch. In other words, it’s a symbolic to reinforce the idea of old-time simplicity.” Apparently nothing says “Must. Spend. Now!” like the Grapes of Wrath, even if the giant stack of crates was designed to look like laborers piled on box after box.

Color Is King – Dole and other growers have issued banana guides to greengrocers, depicting “the various color stages a banana can attain during its life-cycle. Each color represents the sales potential for the banana in question,” and “sales records show that bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (otherwise known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (also called Buttercup.” So while something may look fresh, it actually isn’t.

One thing that appears a bit out of synch is the appearance of many WF employees. In large part they are a fairly undernourished and unhealthy looking group. Maybe their grocery dollars don’t go very far there either.

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