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Food Marketing Success At Whole Foods – Stay Small; Go Big

Picture1_3.pngFood marketing for retail success is hard enough, but food marketing successfully at Whole Foods can be brutal to those companies who aren’t prepared for them.  We have several small clients who have navigated these waters and never looked back while others have disappeared, never to be heard from again.  What caused some of these companies to succeed and others to crumble isn’t necessarily Whole Foods’ fault, however this specialty foods retailer goes to extraordinary lengths to get the right products and product mix on its store shelves.  In doing so, many small companies have an advantage that the “big boys” are just now starting to notice.

Whole Foods = Whole Paycheck

Whole Foods understands food marketing and retail packaging go hand-in-hand.  The right items on their shelves with the right ingredients coupled with the right packaging means they can charge a premium for their products.  Items from fresh juice, vegan offerings, baby food, snacks, etc. are rarely (if ever) the massive big boy names we see as we talk the aisles of Walmart and Target.  Whole Foods loves uniqueness and original products that are not normally found in traditional grocery stores.  That’s one reason they are so supportive of small companies, so much so they scour the country looking for products they can introduce regionally and then possibly nationally.   

If you are a small business with a product to sell, selling to Whole Foods could be the opportunity of a lifetime.  However, you clearly need to play by their rules.  Whole Foods goes to great lengths to understand their shoppers, who they are, what they look for, even down to the printing and script used on packaging that they feel is more apt to get a customer’s attention.  They know what their customers want and are willing to pay for and Whole Foods will go to great lengths to keep their shelves full of these items.  Whole Foods offers advice and guidance on packaging, ingredients to use, certifications to apply for, and even low-interest loans. 

But some companies can get too big for Whole Foods and become vulnerable, like Chobani’s Greek Yogurt did.  Whole Foods wanted more niche brands and Chobani didn’t want the restrictions that Whole Foods was demanding and they decided to part ways.  However, one company, Hain Celestial Brands was also getting too big but decided to stay and never looked back.  How and why did they embrace the demands of Whole Foods?  It always comes down to money, and a lot of it.

Smaller Brands + Unique Retail Packaging = Whole Lot of Money

Instead of just building the Hain Celestial name and having it on a ton of products at Whole Foods, they went small to go big.  They created various brands with no direct connection to Hain and became a mega supplier to Whole Foods.  To date they have over 800 products under various brands in Whole Foods, their largest customer.  Each of these products have unique packaging and brand names.  This gives Whole Foods the uniqueness and variety they are looking for while giving Hain a major client.

Regardless of the product that you sell or how big your company is, the key piece is the packaging you use.  Your packaging is the voice of your brand, it is the microphone of your company when you cannot be there personally telling each potential customer how great it is…how great tasting, long lasting, good-for-you it is.  If you want success at Whole Foods or any retailer, your retail packaging needs to perform for you. 

3 Things Your Retail Packaging Must Do For Retail Success

  1. Protect
    Having a great product does you no good if you cannot keep it fresh with the intended flavor and aroma you want and your customers demand. Resealable packaging first and foremost must protect you product.
  2. Promote
    Your retail packaging needs to promote your product, your company, your story and why it is so yummy and wonderful, etc.
  3. Purchase
    It’s got to lead to a purchase. Your packaging needs to say, “Pick me up and take me home!”  If it isn’t doing that, you are not going to succeed at Whole Foods or any other retailer.

Want The Fastest Way To Boost Your Sales at Whole Foods? 

Refresh your packaging.  You’ve got a great product and we just talked about how Whole Foods wants uniqueness and constantly looks to update its product mix, consider changing your packaging by updating your color scheme and logo or even use new packaging styles.

One style that continues to grow in popularity are resealable pouches.  Resealable stand up pouches are made from multiple layers of barrier film that are laminated together to create a package that will stand effectively while protecting the contents inside.  Resealable stand up pouches can be printed up to 12 colors in clear film and opaque film structures such as Mylar and foil.  With the right supplier, the minimum run for printed stand up pouches is a low as 5000 pieces.  Again, this is custom printed no less, so if you have multiple products that need to not only stand on a store shelf but stand out, look into resealable pouches.

The point I’m trying to make is Whole Foods and other major retailers know their profits come from unique products, exclusive items, and specialty goods.  You can continue to create new products to add to your portfolio but if you want success at the retail level you need to continue to update your packaging at the same time.  As always consult your packaging professional.  Remember it’s YOUR product, package it properly.

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