Whole Foods Has Started Losing Its Uniqueness

One of the reasons Whole Foods has been a popular store despite their high prices is that they have a lot of unique brands that you can only find there, and it was those specialty brands that separated them from the rest.  But now that Amazon has taken them over, it looks like that’s beginning to change.

According to this article from the Washington Post, Whole Foods is putting new demands on the companies that sell to them and it’s making it tough on the mom-and-pop local companies that have been selling to them.  Among other things, they’re now making them pay for in-store demos (which they could previously do themselves) and are also demanding discounts from them so they can lower prices to their customers.  One local supplier of spaghetti sauce said that they were able to display 108 bottles of their sauce in the past but it’s now only 36 bottles as they are making more room for the national brands.

So another company that caters to local customers is now changing to centralize and cut costs, making them like everyone else.   Sounds much like what happened to Longs Drugs before they were eventually sold to CVS, all the local niche marketing started going away and the stores became cookie-cutter like all the other chains.   Will people still shop at Whole Foods just to get national brands at the same price as at Ralphs or Vons?  It seems like Amazon is missing the boat on what attracted customers there–it wasn’t low prices, it was the uniqueness and fun experience of shopping there.  Customers were willing to spend more.  (In fact, I think it made them feel special to shop there!)

So it looks like the only place to get that mom-and-pop spaghetti sauce may end up being Trader Joe’s, unless they get bought out by Google at some point.   But hey, at least if you haven’t bought an Amazon Echo yet you can pick one up at Whole Foods while you’re buying your groceries…