Whole Foods is developing a new format

Whole Foods announced this month that it is developing a new format, under a different brand name. The goal is to appeal to “millennials” (the brass ring these days) with a smaller footprint, more “curated” assortment and lower prices than a typical Whole Foods store. Here’s my commentary from RetailWire:

This announcement raises several questions about the kinds of issues being discussed inside Whole Foods’ headquarters:

1. Is a new concept the best way to overcome what is apparently a price-perception problem?
2. If we are creating a new store for “millennials,” will we lose them to our core business? If so, why are we continuing to open so many stores?
3. Will a “modern, streamlined design” offer the kind of “foodie” appeal and presentation that drove Whole Foods’ growth in the first place?
4. How, exactly, is the new chain different from the highly curated assortment at Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market and other small-footprint competitors?

Whole Foods may in fact develop a concept that impacts the industry as much as its original stores have done, but for now count me as a skeptic.

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