Whole Foods Responds to Millennial’s Call for a Customized, Engaging, Laid-Back Customer Experience

Millennials now account for more than $1 trillion dollars of U.S. consumer spending. While some may believe that Gen-Y’s core food group is Taco Bell, I’d guess that many-a-millennial are making their way in to grocery stores somewhat regularly. 365 by Whole Foods Market, a smaller and more affordable store concept targeting new shoppers and millennials, appear to be making that bet as well.  365, which opened its first location last week in Silver Lake, CA will carry the Whole Foods 365 private label products and will provide shoppers with opportunities to learn about wine, sip on artisanal coffees or juices and look at local art, all while racking up rewards and savings.

365 by Whole Foods Market Mission Statement: It’s time for a whole new grocery shopping experience. One that strives to be good for your body, your lifestyle and the planet.

When it comes to shopping for food, we know that millennials plan backwards. They write lists on their way to the store versus pre-planning for their grocery visits. They buy what they want to eat or will need for an “eating occasion,” not typically purchasing ingredients to simply keep in stock for future meals. Despite popular belief, millennials are frugal and often conduct research online and among their personal networks to make educated purchases. They also shop frequently: One quarter of their meals were purchased the day of consumption. According to the Food Marketing Institute’s research, all signs point to 365 by Whole Foods being a millennial magnet!

  1. They Appreciate Quality Brands at Affordable Prices

Whole Foods is an aspirational brand for millennials – it stands for exciting, high-quality, premium products; plus it basically brought the word “organic” into the mainstream. The 365 brand upholds this positive reputation for quality, connects us back to the beloved Whole Foods brand, and also offers millennial shoppers a more affordable price point. An issue the 365 brand faced in Whole Foods Markets was that products were surrounded by sexier, more expensive alternatives. By creating an entire store dedicated to the 365 brand and customizing it to a Millennial audience and their lifestyles, it will create a positive and comfortable environment where young and price conscious shoppers will genuinely enjoy spending time.

  1. They’re Highly Philanthropic and Support Local Brands and Businesses

Millennials embrace brands who are committed to making a difference and supporting their community. The new 365 stores will support local arts by displaying local artwork in their stores. For example, the new Silver Lake store will feature local artist’s original work, such as a colorful “Silver Kale” mural. Incorporating “committed to social good” vibes will create loyal shoppers who are more likely to recommend the brand to friends.

  1. They Crave Multi-Sensory Experiences

Within each 365 store, there will be designated hangouts, ranging from coffee and juice bars to in-store restaurants. The Silver Lake store café that will sell Allegro coffee and Larder Baking Co. pastries. The artisanal coffee shop and other similar concepts are amenities that resonate particularly well with young shoppers, and will help 365 feel like more of an experience/destination and less like a store.

  1. The Customer Experience is Easy, Educational and Transparent

Millennials are curious about wine. They walk up and down the wine aisles to determine which bottles best suit them. They conduct Google searches on their phones and consider price, label design, name, type of grape, and whether it’s one that mom or dad would drink. Through a partnership with Delectable, 365 will offer user-generated product reviews on iPads, which will act as in-store wine guides and provide accessible reviews to customers.

One of the most unfriendly parts of the grocery shopping experience, especially for price-conscious millennials, is the lack of price transparency. Gone are the days of checking out with what appeared to be a $50 cart of groceries that actually costs $75. Whole Foods’ new store concept is abolishing the industry-standard price stickers, which are often dated and confusing, and replacing them with digital price tags. Not only will these mini-screens increase price visibility and transparency (and therefore comfort), but they will also allow for quick and efficient price or promotion updates.

  1. Smart Customer Loyalty Programs Keep Them Coming Back For More

What is almost as good as, if not better than, free? Free with points! At 365, the new customer rewards and loyalty program will reward shoppers with instant savings. The rewards program will not only deliver value, but it will also take into consideration dietary restrictions and other lifestyle preferences.

Millennials will love that the brand which brought organic and natural foods into our homes is creating an innovative new concept that’s affordable and provides a locally tailored experience. While it remains unclear which of the many store features will be the millennial favorite, my guess is the innovative wine experience. Cheers!