Whole Foods Social Media


Published on

This is a project that analyzed Whole Foods current Social Media strategy and identified growth opportunities.

We then provided solutions to go after the opportunities we identified.

You can see an accompanying commercial here: http://vimeo.com/16305076

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Whole Foods Social Media

  1. 1. Whole Foods Social Media Strategy Salina Chan Rainey Jernigan Eric Katz Tazmun Nahar Ross Simons
  2. 2. Whole Foods Market is one of America’s leading supermarkets specializing in naturaland organic products. Through the company’s commitment to localized suppliers, Whole Foodsis able to provide consumers with fresh, health-conscious foods. With the recent social trendtowards health-conscious eating habits, Whole Foods is becoming increasingly popular as a storeand a lifestyle. Whole Foods’ mantra, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” promotes the well-beingof the company, those who work for Whole Foods, and the successful utilization of the Earth’snatural resources in order to achieve company profit and growth. Following these three basicprinciples, Whole Foods has also cultivated seven company objectives: 1. Selling the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Products Available 2. Satisfying and Delighting Our Customers 3. Supporting Team Member Happiness and Excellence 4. Creating Wealth Through Profits & Growth 5. Caring about our Communities & Our Environment 6. Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers 7. Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education. As a company committed to healthy living and eating, Whole Foods promotes not only aset of products, but a way of living. Their already extensive use of social media feeds into thelifestyle image Whole Foods promotes through their products and promotions. Considered apioneer in their commitment to the use of social media, Whole Foods has already gained a strongfollowing on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube. Not to mention, there is a regularlyupdated company blog and iPhone mobile application as well as an official website,
  3. 3. www.wholefoodsmarket.com. While Whole Foods has many Web 2.0 outlets, each is aimed tohighlight a different aspect of their company. According to Bill Tolany, Head of Integrated Media at Whole Foods, social media hasgrown to become considered marketing and communications. With this in mind, he has outlinedfour goals for social media at Whole Foods. First, he wants Whole Foods to “be where thecustomers are” (“Just Because”). He wants customers to be able to reach Whole Foods with littleeffort thus, Whole Foods is on almost every popular social media medium. This then aligns withthe second goal of increasing the quantity and quality of customer interactions. Another goal is tobe able to measure the number of times that Whole Foods is mentioned on the net. There is noway to measure how many times an individual shops at Whole Foods so measuring how muchthey talk about Whole Foods is the next best strategy. The last goal that Tolany has for socialmedia is “to help improve customers’ lives in some way” (“Just Because”). Our goal forintegrating social media at Whole Foods is to help make the customers’ shopping experienceeasier and more efficient thus, improving their lives. There are many things that Whole Foods is already doing well on the social media front.Whole Foods is doing well promoting their current use of social media; at the top of the WholeFoods company website, www.wholefoodsmarket.com, there is a “Talk to Us” section (SeeExhibit 1A) that lists four different mediums (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the Whole PeopleBlog). Another strategy that has been working really well for them is having niche Facebook andTwitter accounts (See Exhibits 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E). With the Twitter accounts, they have somespecialized ones according to their company’s specialty items, such as @WFMCheese,@WFMWineGuys, as well as a Twitter account promoting specialized recipes aligned with theircompany’s values, @WholeRecipes. Having these niche accounts allows them to do targeted
  4. 4. marketing for their promotional events. Also,Whole Foods has a Flickr (See Exhibit 1F) accountdedicated to capturing these promotional events for all to view and comment on. On anothernote, the Whole People blog (See Exhibit 1G), advertised at the top of their website, addspersonality to company. The regular updates shed light onto the company culture, and make theircustomer feel closer to the people they are purchasing from. Due to their impressive, routineupdates and intriguing blog posts, the Whole People Blog has gained a large following. Not only can social media be used to promote Whole Foods as a whole, but it can also beused to address their issues and opportunities.One opportunity we discovered is to improvingbrand image. Another is to clarify false, preconceived notions that consumers might have aboutthe Whole Foods brand, (for example, Whole Foods gaining higher profits from sales than theindustry standard). Lastly, Whole Foods could use social media to inform people of currentcompany proceedings, which can also tie into improving the brand image. Through our analysis of Whole Food’s current use of social media, we have devised fourcampaigns to address the aforementioned opportunities for Whole Foods. First, we’d like addressthe mobile application market. Next, we have developed a campaign surrounded around acommunity crop swapping program. Third, we would like to create a cooking community thatties into the ideals set by the Whole Foods company and their lifestyle guidelines. Fourth, acampaign dedicated to informing consumers about what Whole Foods does already and will doin the future. Whole Foods currently has a well-developed iPhone mobile application. This app is veryuser-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. The buttons and features are clear to the averagetechnology user. Also, these features are geared toward the typical shopper at Whole Foods. Oneaspect of the app is “locations” where the user can locate the nearest Whole Foods. This feature,
  5. 5. using GPS, determines where the user currently is, and then finds Whole Foods locations closestto them and displays them on a map (See Exhibit 2A). Another good feature that they have is the“On Hand” section. This allows the user to enter three ingredients that they have in their pantry,which then allows the app to suggest recipes that include said ingredients (See Exhibit 2B). Thispromotes healthy cooking and resourcefulness, which are values of the company. The applicationalso has a recipe finder where the user can type in an item, for example, “pumpkin,” and getrecipes from the Whole Foods kitchen (See Exhibit 2C). There is also a “shopping list” featurewhere the customer can write items they need from the store, and check off purchased items asthey shop(See Exhibit 2D). While the app has a base of quality features, there are severaladditions we feel would improve the value of this mobile application. Currently, the application has a “recipe search”, but does not have an item search. Wefeel that it is important for Whole Foods to add this feature. This would allow a customer to lookup the item they are looking for, for example,“granola bar,” and see all of the granola bars thatWhole Foods offers. Embedded in the app will be automatic coupon alerts that will notifycustomers of deals based on the products they scan or search for. When they search “granolabar”, a window could pop up and say “2 for 1 on Chewy Granola Bars”. Once they find the itemin the search box, and find any coupons available, they can add the item to their “shopping list”(See Exhibit 3A). This is another way for Whole Foods to reach out to their customers. They canalso track who is using the app by measuring who uses the coupons from the app (they wouldhave a specific code), and generate metrics about how often the application is used. Briefly mentioned before, the “shopping list” section is already included in thisapplication, but we feel a barcode scanner could add benefits to the consumer. This way,customers can scan their loyalty card as well as scan items to check them off of their shopping
  6. 6. list (see Exhibit 3B). Having a loyalty card scannable by your iPhone, customers would be ableto see the rewards they get before they buy. This is because when the user scans his or her card, awindow will pop up saying how many “points” they have, which coupons they can use, and theirmost bought items. Knowing what the customer buys the most will let Whole Foods target themby giving them coupons and advertisements. Perhaps more importantly, a barcode scannerfeature paired with a loyalty card will allow Whole Foods to track the purchasing habits of theircustomers. Having a loyalty program implemented via a loyalty card will allow Whole Foods totrack the most frequent and largest spending customers; by having this card scannable throughthe mobile app, this new card and program will not be a burden to the consumer. To feature Whole Foods’ value of eating locally and healthfully, we have decided to adda feature to the appthat can tell the user what items may be in season in their area. This will beaddressed by our “What’s in season?” section. The user can put in their zip code, or allow GPSto track their area, and then select the current season. The application will then make a list ofeverything that is in season in their area, at that particular time of year. The user can then clickon a particular item, and add it to their shopping list (see Exhibit 3C). Users of the Whole Foods app are likely already customers of Whole Foods itself.However, most people who do not shop at Whole Foods think that it is too expensive. We wantto show users that organic and healthy items can be purchased on a budget. Therefore, we willadd an “On a budget?” section. The user can type in how much money they have available tospend, and the application will come up with a combination of things that they can buy (SeeExhibit 3D). By incorporating previous purchasing habits (via the loyalty card), this section willbe able to generate recommendations relevant to the users buying preferences. This improvementwill show users that you can shop on a budget at Whole Foods, and improve the brand image
  7. 7. from that of an expensive organic store. Our additions to the existing Whole Foods mobile app will give users new features thatwill benefit their shopping experience, give Whole Foods a new way to track customers, andpromote the brand image. Although we feel that updating the iPhone App will help usage a lot,we know this will not be enough. They have not even tapped into the other parts of the smartphone market, and we feel that expanding their application to other phones will greatly increasethe likelihood of success for the Whole Foods application.. Now that the suggested improvements to the iPhone mobile application have beendelineated, we can analyze the additional mobile app markets Whole Foods should consider. TheiPhone worldwide smart-phone sales to end user in 2009 were 14.4% of the market.Comparatively, the blackberry, produced by RIM, had 19.9% of the market and the Android,produced by Google, had 3.9% of the market (see Exhibit 4). The four firm market concentrationratio of worldwide smartphone sales shows that Nokia phones (not currently “smart”),Blackberry’s, Apples and Androids are collectively an oligopoly with “low” concentration levelsbetween 40% and 50% amongst the top four players. While Blackberry is the second largest oligopoly player (and the largest smart phoneplayer) in the market, Android is the favorable star and new entrant into the market. The Androidplatform is a free smart phone technology platform that Google is distributing. It is expected tocapture significant market share over the next three to five years. For these reasons, it makessense for Whole Foods to expand their mobile application into the Blackberry and Androidmarkets. Furthermore, an overview of the smart phone operating systems and application stores asof March 2010 reveals that Apple has over 185,000 apps. Comparatively, Android has 30,000
  8. 8. apps and Blackberry has 6,000 apps. Whole Foods has already become a top-rated app in theApple App Store. If Whole Foods expands into the Blackberry and Android markets, they will beable to more easily position themselves as one of the top Food apps, if not a top app overall (only6,000 other competitors with Blackberry and 30,000 other competitors with Android). From abroad point of view, expansion will allow Whole Foods to tap an additional 25% of the globalsmart phone users. While it makes sense for Whole Foods to expand into the Blackberry and Android mobileapplication markets, there are several factors that must be considered. The first factor is the whatinformation Whole Foods will be able to monitor. The online downloading of apps makes itextremely easy for any application provider to track their success. Whole Foods can easily trackthe total app downloads for each phone type, the average user ratings, the total number ofratings, and user complaints and satisfaction rating responses. Perhaps most importantly,however, Whole Foods will be able to track the purchasing habits of their buyers (by linking thephone app to a customer loyalty card). This opens up a massive realm for location basedmarketing and advertising services that Whole Foods can get a head start on. The second set of factors to consider are implementation criteria. To gain widespreaduser-ship of the Blackberry and Android apps, Whole Foods should hold an exclusive employeelaunch party at each Whole Foods location. The party would serve to educate all employeesabout the new app, encourage employees with the appropriate smart phones to download the app,and give employees the exclusive right to share the app (at least initially) with their friends andfamily. This exclusivity connected with the app will generate user interest. Gradually, WholeFoods can make the app publicly available and easily download-able (after gaining traction withthe employee app sharing initiative).
  9. 9. The third and crucial aspect to consider for the app expansion is the challenges that willbe faced. After reading through over 150 user ratings of the iPhone Whole Foods app, there weretwo general problems that users reported. First, the app crashed often and updates were notavailable to solve the problem. This means that Whole Foods will have to invest additionalcapital into an update that will solve crash-related problems.The second problem reported wasthat the recipes available largely excluded the dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free communities. Toovercome this challenge, Whole Foods must focus its efforts on creating a platform to allowusers to easily submit their own recipes and have other users rate the recipes. Over time, this willallow for the best user-created recipes to rise to the top and will ultimately increase the varietyand total number of recipes available. Crowd-sourcing recipes from the existing Whole Foodsapp user base is critical to the future success of the app. Not only have we developed a campaign to improve their existing mobile app, we havealso devised a way to integrate all users into a virtual community based on their cookinginterests. Our idea to implement a cooking community will be preceded by a cooking showcontest. The cooking community is a community of user-generated cooking shows (meals, tipvideos, etc). To introduce the cooking show contest, we will first discuss the issues that wouldarise from the cooking community. The first issue that arises is how to get qualitysubmissions to the community, especially for a time-intensive video such as a cooking show.Second, it can take a long time to build up a group of users of the community. Third, thecommunity (ratings, hierarchy of videos, favorite users, etc.) can take a long time to develop.Fourth, what outlets will be necessary to successfully promote the community. This cooking contest would elegantly bypass all of these challenges by providingincentives to those who submit high quality submissions, which could then be rated, organized,
  10. 10. and ready to be placed into the community after the conclusion of the contest. To begin, we willdiscuss the logistics of the cooking show contest. All submissions will be subject to a number ofguidelines (See Exhibit 5 - includes a flyer):1. Most ingredients (except for breads, pastas) must be fresh, and not pre-made, out of a canand/or bought (ready-made) from Whole Foods.2. Every meal has to be under $15 and be able to feed two people. Proof of purchase required3. The videos must be edited down to 10 minutes, but the shorter the better.4. At the beginning of the video, you must say your favorite thing about Whole Foods. We realize that, in order to to obtain quality submissions, we must provide unique andfulfilling incentives. With the significantly lower costs of a social media marketing campaign,we plan to use that extra money to provide better incentives than most contests do. The grandprize winner will receive a $5,000 shopping card to Whole Foods and will get their ingredientsmade into a $15 pre-packaged meal complete with written recipe instructions and marketed asthe winning meal within Whole Foods stores. The winner will receive a percentage of the profitoff of every one of these packages sold (10-20%) for the 3 months following it’s inclusion instores. The second place winner would win $3,000 worth of Whole Foods goods and have theopportunity to cook the meal in the hot food sections of the stores. Whole Foods has certain daysout of the year where they pledge 5% of their revenue to charity. On these days, the second prizewinner would be allowed to cook their meal, getting paid the industry standard for a cook. Thiswould also hopefully create an activity that would draw more consumers to the store and thuscreate higher revenue and higher donations. The third place winner will receive a $2,000shopping card to Whole Foods and a reserved parking space at their local Whole Foods. Inaddition, every person who submits a video will receive a coupon of 20% off $50 spent at Whole
  11. 11. Foods. The idea behind these really unique prizes is that they will create steam for the contest bythemselves and hopefully garner unsolicited media attention, becoming viral by intriguingviewers. After the contest, there will be regular contests (bi-weekly or monthly) in which the 3top-rated new submissions of the past 2 months prior will receive a $500 shopping card to Wholefoods. Another great aspect of our prizes is that they provide great monetary profit to WholeFoods, through the shopping cards. This program will help build an active community behindWhole Foods and Whole Foods disciples. There are several additional benefits to a cooking community video-submissioncampaign. Whole foods does a lot of awesome things, but they do not market theiraccomplishments. One of our members said that they had not previously shopped at WholeFoods due to their prices, but after hearing about everything they do, the team member said theywould be more likely to overlook price to help the Whole Foods cause. Because of this, werealize that increasing knowledge of the Whole Foods core values will broaden their customerbase, and increase sales. Consumers buy for what they believe in, not solely what product acompany is pushing. Within each video, there would be short advertisements (10 seconds or so,much like you see in any online video). These mini-commercials would be Whole Foodsadvertisements that inform customers about what Whole Foods is doing behind the scenes, ratherthan promoting a new product. They would be based around the theme “Did You Know?” andwould convey a short fact about Whole Foods many people may not know. (Refer to exhibit 7for examples of Did You Know?)..This would be an ongoing initiative that would be included inevery video in the contest. We see the cooking community as a perfect opportunity to reallyinfluence perceived value, brand loyalty, and to facilitate brand disciples which will thusincrease customer base.
  12. 12. Our final strategy is to create a new community that ties in closely with our cookingcommunity. With this idea, we wanted to create something that was extremely unique while alsopromoting Whole Foods Market, Inc. values. After careful evaluation, we decided thatsustainability, buying locally grown foods, and eating healthy were three of their strongest valuesto promote in their brand. Our new initiative, crop.SWAP embodies all of these values.crop.SWAP is a home gardening/swapping online community, where local gardeners cancoordinate swapping their produce for those of other small gardeners in their area.. In regards toWhole Foods, crop. SWAP addresses their business values in a way that many strategies do not:selflessly. There is little direct profit incentive because Whole Foods is not making any revenuefrom this project. This community is solely aimed to increase brand and value awareness for theWhole Foods brand. With the stereotype (and rightly so) that Whole Foods has high prices, we see anopportunity to change the way people view the Whole Foods brand. We decided that oneultimate business goal is for people to not think of Whole Foods as a profit-obsessed corporationbut as a social venture. Our team believes that crop.SWAP is a great step towards transformingperception in this regard. Crop.SWAP,besides just being an online home gardening community, will have anumber of features. First and foremost at its core, it will be a tool for facilitating the swapping ofcrops between small home gardeners. One of the barriers to home gardening is space limitation.For those people who want to garden, a large exterior space is not always readily available. Withlimited space, a potential home gardener would only be able to plant a few types of crops (ex.cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash). The work to garden (input) would produce limited returns(output). Many potential gardeners may not choose to partake in home gardening because of
  13. 13. these restrictions. crop.SWAP seeks to move past these barriers through collaboration. If user Aonly has space to grow cucumbers and tomatoes, they can go onto crop.SWAP and find user Bwilling to trade apples for cucumbers. This community would essentially seek to take a largenumber of farmers specializing in specific crops, and bring them all together to create a hugecommunity farm in which all active members have access to the output. Within the community,there would be a search function built upon google maps. User A could search for apples and themap would places markers on all the active swappers with apples available. In addition to the core functions, crop.SWAP can also operate as a support community.First, there would be a forum in which people could communicate amongst themselves.Examples of possible posts would be "Home gardening 101", "Does anyone know of alternativesto pesticides?", "How do you know when cucumbers are ripe?", etc. In addition, there would alsobe blogs for members who want to speak about something to the community in a more long formmanner. Examples would be "10 awesome ways to use citrus", "Beware of these 8 chemicalswhen buying pesticides, fertilizers, and more." All blog posts could be rated, commented on,linked to, tagged, and used as a connection to the author. There are some potential challenges to this plan. One of these would be promotion. Wewould promote this through our Did You Know? strategy. It would also be promoted in storesthrough posters. In addition, for every purchase over $20 in Whole Foods stores, the store wouldgive a small package of seeds for things that are easy to grow (like parsley, basil, spinach, etc.)with a label pointing them to the community website. This package would be designed to becrops that are easy to grow even indoors with a very low time commitment to make it easy for apotential gardener to start and begin utilizing the community. This will hopefully snowball andgive people the "gardening bug".
  14. 14. One of the other issues we thought of, that was brought up in the Q&A section of ourpresentation was the potential problem that consumers (non-growers) may essentially use this tobypass buying from Whole Foods and finding local gardeners to buy from instead, which wouldhave a negative impact of Whole Foods business. Another issue is how to stop farmers fromutilizing the site to find consumers and taking the site out of the hands of actual home gardeners.Our intent of this community is for it to be utilized specifically by gardeners, not farmers. We have came up with a solution to both of these issues. We would implement a creditssystem to police this. A member of the community would list their crops for trade, and each itemwould be given credit. For typical crops such as a tomato, or a cucumber, the user would receiveone point. For others such as watermelon, they would receive more points as they are a highervalue crop which take more space per output. The point(s) would be allocated for each of theseitems so if user A has 10 tomatoes, they would receive 10 credit points. These points are thenlater used to "buy" crops from other users. This points system would allow Whole Foods to track the "sales" and user-ship of themembers. People receiving a large amount of points would be noticed by moderators and wouldbe looked into further to insure that they are a gardener and not a farmer. All new memberswould sign an agreement that would state that one of the conditions of user-ship in thecommunity is that you are a small home gardener and that accounts are subject to deletion at anytime. Also, because of the nature of requiring users to be active members to receive points, itwould insure that only gardeners would have access to the communitys crops.This community provides pure, concrete, selfless promotion of the Whole Foods values, aligning with ourintentions of a value-oriented campaign.
  15. 15. Before crop.SWAP could be implemented, Whole Foods needs to find gardeners. Findingand attracting gardeners is going to be one of their hardest jobs.One way to reach currentgardeners is via their already established social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.They can also advertise in gardening magazines. Furthermore, they can implement a referencingsystem. For every person you refer, when they make their first 50 credits you will receive 10credits to your mySWAP account. Once implemented, there are many metrics Whole Foods could use to measure thesuccess of crop.SWAP. One obvious metric is the number of members registered on crop.SWAP.Next is to measure how active these members are by keeping track of their interactions on theforums. Another performance metric is to take a look at Whole Foods status onwww.socialmention.com before and after the implementation of crop.SWAP. People will begin to see Whole Foods as a social venture, they would be more likely tooverlook price of goods, knowing that their money is doing so much good for their own healthand for the health of the world in general. In conclusion, Whole Foods is dedicated to Whole People and a Whole Planet. Theirseven company objectives clearly identify what the company focuses on (both day to day and inlong term strategy decisions). Whole Foods is one of the best companies in the world at utilizingsocial media to connect with and market to end users. Nonetheless, there are three areas forimprovement that our team has identified. The first improvement campaign addresses the iPhoneapp and improvements that can be made, but also addresses mobile app expansion to include theBlackberry and the Android phones. The second improvement campaign addresses creating acooking community that will be launched with a video-submission contest boasting attractiveprizes. The third improvement campaign addresses creating a farming community through
  16. 16. crop.SWAP to improve the Whole Foods “profit-hungry” brand image. Ultimately, we believethat by implementing the aforementioned suggestions, Whole Foods will be able to remain adominant player in the grocery foods market.
  17. 17. AppendixExhibit 1: A B C
  18. 18. DE
  19. 19. FG
  20. 20. Exhibit 2: A B C D
  21. 21. Exhibit 3: A B
  22. 22. CD
  23. 23. Exhibit 4 Worldwide Smartphone Sales Market Share 2009 Iphone Blackberry Andriod Other
  24. 24. Exhibit 5Exhibit 6Did you know that: 1. Whole Foods has a small farmer loan where we provide low interest, low fee, low paperwork loans to local farmers to help them make investments? 2. Whole Foods has an international micro financing program? 3. Whole Foods gives a portion of its inventory from each store to local soup kitchens, food pantries, and homeless shelters? 4. Whole Foods has a community devoted to promoting home gardeners, eating locally, and sustainability called cropSWAP? Go to www.cropswap.com for more info”, etc.) 5. Several times a year, Whole Foods gives 5% of their day’s sales to charity
  25. 25. 6. Whole Foods composts all food they have left at the end of the day and sell to local farmers 7. They have the first in-store color-coded sustainable seafood rating program launched this fall 8. Whole Foods has the Whole Planet Foundation which fights poverty through micro lending in rural communities around the worldExhibit 7
  26. 26. Works CitedApple Harvard Case Study, 2010 "Useful Social Media Blog » Blog Archive » “Just Because You Think about Your Company 24/7 Doesn’t Mean Everyone Else Does”." Home | Useful Social Media | Corporate Social Media Best Practice. Web. 01 Nov. 2010. <http://usefulsocialmedia.com/blog/uncategorized/just-because-you-think-about-your- company-247-doesn’t-mean-everyone-else-does/>.Sinek, Simon. "Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action | Video on TED.com." Http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html. 01 May 2010. Web. 01 Nov. 2010.