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"What is it?" she spoke all dreamy-like into the phone. "I'm in Whole Foods."
I got it immediately. Whole Foods has that effect on me as well: Nobody is allowed to interrupt the trance.
Normally we're a lively set of Chatty Cathys. us two. But since she was in the equivalent of food synagogue I let her go fast.
"It's alright Ma," I said, laughing. "I'll call you later."
What is your favorite part of Whole Foods? For me there are almost too many to list:
* The delicious natural food bar and hot soups
* The good-smelling natural soaps they have stacked up by the deli
* The "core values" sign near the front of the store
* The fact that I know whatever I buy is going to taste good
* The way they manage to make plain old fruits and vegetables so appealing
But one of the things I love the most is not even inside the store: the "Whole Deal Value Guide."
Never have I seen a weekly sales flyer used so effectively as this little booklet printed on newsprint. Even Trader Joe's "Fearless Flyer" - which is pretty good - doesn't come close.
Here's the similarity: Both use the flier for brand reinforcement -
* Trader Joe's version shows us that they sell fun, unusual, interesting and delicious food, that's affordable. Nice!
* Whole Foods' version conveys that its food is not only healthy but, among other things, sustainable and ethically produced.
Here's where Whole Foods goes above and beyond:
In my opinion the #1 brand negative for this company is the perception of overpricing.
Especially in a bad economy people don't want to pay more than they have to for anything. And they are angry when they feel they are being cheated - could get the same product for a similar price.
Whole Foods could ignore this perception and simply say, in effect, "Too bad on you - our kind of customer is willing to pay more."
Instead, they actively attack the possible negative perception and use their flyer to:
* Show you how to save money when shopping at the store - pointing out sales and coupons.
* Teach you how to live a healthier lifestyle - providing healthy recipes so you can cook easily and well for yourself and your family.
The end result is the perception that Whole Foods is on a mission to change the way all Americans eat - not just the elite.
In effect, they use the flier to open up the brand community - and in the process win goodwill from those who don't necessarily want to spend $6 for a little-looking pouch of gluten-free granola.
The next time you recognize that someone has bad feedback for your brand, think strategically about whether you ignore it or leverage it into a positive branding/marketing tool - one that can amplify your reach without watering down your distinctive brand message.
Have a good evening everyone, and good luck!
Elsewhere on the Web:
- "Brand Equity"on Wikipedia
- "Negative Brand Equity"
- "Negative Brand Equity: A BP Death Sentence?"
- "Microsoft's Negative Brand Image Gets Worse"