Ensuring Whole Food's Future
The organic foods giant originated in 1978 as a simple dream by its CEO and founder John Mackey: to do something different with food. His vision first began with the simply realization of food's importance in personal well-being. It all began as a humble storefront in Austin Texas, Mackey and his then girlfriend, Renee Hardy, who made everything from scratch and helped develop this grocer empire. Together, their budding company became America's first national certified Organic grocer (Whole Foods Market, 2011). Today, with over 330 stores expanding across North American and the UK and with around 60,000 employees, Whole Foods Market is the world's largest grocer of natural and organic foods. Current Strategy
Whole Food's path to international success stems from CEO and founder, John Mackey's initial vision for the company, “To promote vitality and well-being for all individuals by offering the highest quality, least processed, most flavorful natural and naturally preserved foods available.” (John Mackey) Rather than becoming one of the dime-a-dozen smaller retail chains throughout America, Whole Foods set out to open its own massive stores of around 50,000 square feet (Meador & Britton). After Austin Texas, they expanded out to Houston, Dallas, Palo Alto, and even Eastward to New Orleans during the 1980's. As Whole Foods continued to expand, through both opening new stores and merging with other companies, it began acquiring existing natural food stores, so that some twenty years later in 2006, it was the nation's largest natural/organic retailer. From day one, their concept has been to create an inviting and interactive store atmosphere where shopping for food was a fun and pleasurable experience. Analysis of the Industry
The Grocery industry, which includes conventional supermarkets, supercenter, limited-assortment and natural gourmet supermarkets, netted approximately $563 billion in sales in 2010, a 1% increase from 2009. Since the organic and natural foods departments account for approximately $65 billion dollars annually of the $563 billion dollar pie, up 7% from 2009, this was a very important factor for Whole Foods (Meador & Britton). According to the statistics, the natural and organic foods industry is represented by a wide range of consumer goods and continues to grow with popularity each year. Natural and organic foods are those consumer goods prepared without any artificial ingredients, making them whole and natural. The USDA sets the standards for the term “natural” to strictly mean meat and poultry along with the regulation of the term “organic” under the “Organic Foods Production Act” (The Natural Industry, 2012). In the early 1990s, Natural and Organic food stores were normally thought as small, not well lit, not well organized and unpopular. Organic foods were considered inferior, unreliable, and much more expensive; an unrealistic option for the everyday consumer (Marquis, Besharov, & Thompson). This was a big factor for Whole Foods and played a big role in their store layout and design in the years to follow. Even today, Whole Foods carefully maps out store location while designing each individual store to fit the particular location and reflect the surrounding community. Mackey sought to take the banal perception of grocery shopping and transform it into a good experience,“ Shopping for groceries is like a chore, its like doing the laundry or taking out the garbage. Whole Foods strives to make shopping engaging, fun and attractive” (Marquis, Besharov, & Thompson). This metamorphosis of food shopping from a chore to an energetic experience has become one the most important aspects of Whole Food's everyday strategy. Upon entering a Whole Foods Market store, one immediately feels the atmosphere, with well-trained team members, and an inspirational product mix which focuses on healthy eating and quality over...
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