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Interesting Read of the Day - Whole Foods

How Whole Foods "Primes" You To Shop


Do you strive to "buy organic?"  Are you attentive to where and how your food is grown?  Do you make efforts to support "local" growers?  Good for you!  I wish I lived closer to such grocery options, but I live in the sticks.  If you live near other people, in things called "cities," however, you might have access to one of the most popular "organic" grocers in America, Whole Foods.

I've never been in a Whole Foods, but I can imagine the vibe. Crates of fresh produce. Informational tags about cute families who produce organic whole milk from their cow in the back yard. Lots of green and soft yellow and orange. You know...vibe.

But behind it all, apparently, is a very well-oiled marketing machine, impeccably designed to entice customers to do one thing...eagerly spend money. Of course, this is the essence of any good business, so no surprise there. But the genius of places like Whole Foods is they do such a good job of creating the perception that you're spending your money on something special. They do such a good job of creating a perception completely at odds with the reality of their business.  We see warm and fuzzy and local and earth-aware and environmentally sensitive. They see dollars. So, how do they do it? Consider:

The prices for the flowers, as for all the fresh fruits and vegetables, are scrawled in chalk on fragments of black slate--a tradition of outdoor European marketplaces. It's as if the farmer pulled up in front of Whole Foods just this morning, unloaded his produce, then hopped back in his flatbed truck to drive back upstate to his country farm. The dashed-off scrawl also suggests the price changes daily, just as it might at a roadside farm stand or local market. But in fact, most of the produce was flown in days ago, its price set at the Whole Foods corporate headquarters in Texas. Not only do the prices stay fixed, but what might look like chalk on the board is actually indelible; the signs have been mass-produced in a factory.

And more:

Then there's those cardboard boxes with anywhere from eight to ten fresh cantaloupes packed inside each one. These boxes could have been unpacked easily by any one of Whole Foods' employees, but they're left that way on purpose. Why? For that rustic, aw-shuckstouch. In other words, it's a symbolic to reinforce the idea of old-time simplicity. But wait, something about these boxes looks off. Upon close inspection, this stack of crates looks like one giant cardboard box. It can't be, can it? It is. In fact, it's one humongous cardboard box with fissures cut carefully down the side that faces consumers (most likely by some industrial machinery at a factory in China) to make it appear as though this one giant cardboard box is made up of multiple stacked boxes. It's ingenious in its ability to evoke the image of Grapes of Wrath-era laborers piling box after box of fresh fruit into the store.

Ode to the joys of pure, unadulterated marketing manipulation. It surrounds us every day, even when we just want to go buy something good to eat.