3 Costly Mistakes Whole Foods Made
in Their “Values Matter” Campaign

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From the Desk of Michelle Lopez, Copywriter & Marketing Consultant

Just finishing up my review of OPMC’s for the week (Other People’s Marketing Campaigns).

Came across something that blew my mind:

John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, wrote the following:

“Ongoing media advertising doesn’t work and is a waste of money…Our company has wasted millions of dollars in ambitious advertising programs, which simply haven’t worked over the long term and never will.”

That was back in 1999.

Joe Dobrow, who was head of Whole Foods marketing in the late 1990s, recalls how he tried to convince Mackey it would be worth the company’s while to get creative and do far more in their efforts to reach customers.

Dobrow suggested Whole Foods launch direct mail programs, radio campaigns, print campaigns, a glossy magazine, a loyalty program, and even a co-branded credit card.

These ideas, he says, “were greeted with suspicion and rigorous tests for proof of concept, and were ultimately rejected.”

Clearly Whole Foods Market’s leadership was very anti-marketing.

Fast forward 15 years later…

Imagine everyone’s surprise when Whole Foods suddenly launched an expensive, fancing-looking major advertising campaign.

Complete with TV ads and a two-page spread in national newspapers, the “Values Matter” campaign is estimated to have cost Whole Foods a whopping $15-20 million.

That’s pretty ironic, considering Mackey’s anti-marketing, anti-advertising stance.

Whole Foods spent an estimated $15-20 million on their “Values Matter” campaign. Did it work? Or was the campaign a colossal waste of money?

Despite its lofty goals, the campaign has drawn immense criticism from consumers.

Marketing experts (myself included) believe the campaign fails to connect with the right audience.

Even Joe Dobrow, former head of marketing at Whole Foods, thinks the campaign has “several inherent flaws.”

Frankly, I agree with him.

“WFM [Whole Foods Market, Inc.] was the single worst performing stock in all of the S&P 500 in May 2014.

The ‘Values Matter’ campaign is a direct result of Whole Foods’ awful performance on Wall Street in 2014…

There are several inherent flaws in the ‘ Values Matter’ theme, and in the strategy that informs it, that may imperil the campaign.”

– Joe Dobrow, former head of marketing at Whole Foods

Owners of organic product businesses should learn everything they can from Whole Foods’ expensive marketing mistakes and avoid them at all costs.

Whole Foods is practically the poster child for organic grocery shopping. But it faces a major problem no one is talking about:

As of right now, Whole Foods’ main customer base is “foodies and college graduates.”

In other words, most of the people who shop at Whole Foods are already 100% sold on the idea of organic.

What about those who aren’t yet ‘sold’?

What is Whole Foods doing to reach consumers who are at lower levels of awareness around organic?

In the U.S., only 5% of all money spent on food is for natural and organic. What about the other 95%?

To help answer these important questions, I’ve put together a free marketing guide outlining the 3 costly mistakes Whole Foods made in their Values Matter campaign.

Use this information to improve your own marketing and tap into the immense base of consumers who aren’t yet sold on organic.

The way things are shifting in the food industry, it’s only a matter of time before “the other 95%” convert to organic.

They are your potential customers. Learn how to reach those people, and you’ll skyrocket your organic product sales.

Get the free guide and you’ll discover:

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3 Costly Mistakes Whole Foods Made
in Their “Values Matter” Campaign

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