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Managing in Troubled Times Case Study

Case Title:

Whole Foods Market: Image Makeover Strategy in Troubled Times

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: B Makwana, R Shah, J Thadamalla, S Gollapalli

Industry: Retailing


Case Code: TRT0106IRC

Teaching Note:  Available

Structured Assignment:  Available

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Texas, Austin-based Whole Foods Market (WFM), founded in 1980, operated more than 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom to sell natural and organic products with its major brands like '365 Everyday Value(R)', '365 Organic Everyday Value(R)' products, Whole Foods Market(TM), Whole Kitchen(TM) and Whole Pantry(TM) etc, and private label products like:

  1. Organic pasta
  2. Freshly roasted nut butters
  3. Oak-aged wine vinegars
  4. Aromatic teas.

In 2007, WFM's sales reached $6.6 billion excluding the effect of pooling-of-interests transactions from $92 million in 1991. But, the weak US economic conditions adversely affected grocery chain sales. To combat the slow down, WFM decided to refurbish its 'gold-plated image' by offering deeper discounts, lower-priced store brands, in addition to promoting the company's products through innovative media to arrest the shift of customers to discount stores and to retain them. It remained to be seen whether WFM would weather the effects of the economy slow down across the US and the prospects of increasing food prices in the coming years, and succeed in its image makeover strategy.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To understand the dynamics of the US grocery market.
  • To evaluate the growth of Whole Foods Market.
  • To analyse its image makeover strategy.

Keywords : US grocery industry; Key drivers of the US grocery industry; Whole Foods Market (WFM); Growth strategies of WFM; Economic downturn in the US; Impacts of economic downturn; Consumer spending in the US; Sales promotions; Consumer behaviour; Rebranding initiatives; Image problems of WFM; Image makeover initiatives of WFM


  • The US Grocery Industry: An Overview
  • Whole Foods Market (WFM)

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