Whole Foods Opening “Values-Oriented” Store For Millennial Shoppers

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If you, like me, wish you could spend more time engaging in the delightful experience of shopping at Whole Foods, it’s time to get excited: Whole Foods has announced plans to open a values-oriented, technology-focused grocery store aimed directly at Millennial consumers.

Note that Whole Foods, in their second quarter financial report, used the words “values-oriented,” not value oriented, to describe their new store:

Offering our industry-leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.

It’s a clever and subtle language trick, because it manages to imply “less expensive” without suggesting Whole Foods is one of those value brands. (Yes, I know that they used “value prices” earlier in the paragraph, but “values-oriented” is equally telling.)

Buzzfeed News quotes Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey:

We think a streamlined, hip, cool, technology-oriented store—a store unlike one anyone’s ever seen before … is going to be pretty attractive to that particular generation.

Using the word “hip” automatically means you are not hip, right? Still, I look forward to seeing this store that will be unlike any store ever previously created, and downloading whatever app I need to use to engage with the Whole Foods brand and its technology-oriented values.

But is it really going to be a store for Millennials? Here’s what I predict will happen: if there is even a whiff of possibility that this new Whole Foods is selling products at slightly less expensive price points, everybody will shop there. It’s the same reason you see people in their mid-30s buying clothes at Forever 21 even though none of us wish we were 21 again; the clothes are cheap and you can stock up on staple items like T-shirts while indulging in a $19.99 sundress.

There is no reason why Gen-Xers and Boomers will avoid the Millennial Whole Foods, unless Whole Foods is serious about the technology thing and you have to send them a Snapchat just to get in the door. (Yes, I deliberately picked the slightly outdated Snapchat and not Periscope or Vine. Millennials are getting older and not all of us are interested in downloading the latest social app.)

What do you think about Whole Foods’ idea? Would you shop there? Most importantly: what are they going to call this new store? I thought about it for a minute, and I think the best name for Whole Foods Junior would probably be Foodies. “Where are you going today?” “To the Foodies.” It encapsulates all of the values that Whole Foods imagines hip Millennials have, plus it sounds like a shortened version of Whole Foods.


This story is part of our food month series.



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