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Whole Foods and the Natural Food Channel


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Whole Foods and the Natural Food Channel



Few people would argue against the claim that Whole Foods Market is a trendsetter. The world’s leading natural/organic supermarket, with $12.9 billion in FY 2013 sales, the chain has been well ahead of the general retail curve by recognizing, capturing, and driving trends with a strategy of carrying a broad selection of high quality foods that appeal to both natural/organic food shoppers and gourmets. The chain’s retail market strategy seeks to capitalize on growing consumer interest in natural and organic products. At Whole Foods, the focus is premium quality and huge selection.

In separate chapters, Whole Foods and the Natural Food Channel analyzes Whole Food’s historical growth and expansion strategies, mission/position, store location and design, product standards and programs, use of private label, pricing, advertising and use of social media, organizational structure, ethical and environmental initiatives, consumer demographics and psychographics, and more.

Whole Foods and the Natural Food Channel's 'Retail Competitors' chapter examines the wave of up-and-coming competitors in the natural foods market. In the past two years, several growth-oriented specialty food retailers and natural food chains, including Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, Fairway Market, and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, tapped the stock market with initial public offerings (IPOs). Natural Markets Food Group, which owns the Mrs. Green’s Natural Market chain, is said to be eyeing an IPO as well. Then there is startup company Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, backed by Midwest-based supercenter retailer Meijer Co. It also is strongly rumored that billionaire investor Ron Burkle’s private equity firm Yucaipa Cos. plans to revive the Wild Oats Market name, converting the Fresh & Easy stores it acquired from Tesco Plc in November 2013 into Wild Oats natural foods markets. No. 1 supermarket operator Kroger Co., which maintains more than 2,400 stores across the country under regional banners including Kroger, Ralph’s, and Fry’s, is also making a play for the natural and organic food space and considers itself the second-largest player in this market after Whole Foods.

Each report chapter contains numerous tables, charts, graphs, and illustrations that reinforce the report's main points.

Whole Foods and the Natural Food Channel uses information sources including primary research entailing interviews with retailers and other members of the natural foods industry, as well as on-site examination of retail stores. Secondary research involved the evaluation and comparison of data from articles found in financial, marketing, and industry publications, as well as on corresponding websites and in consumer social media. Other sources for secondary data include annual reports, 10-Ks, transcripts of earnings calls, and literature from individual companies. Consumer data are derived from Simmons National Consumer Surveys for Summer 2013, from Experian Marketing Services.


  • Executive Summary
    • Scope of Report
    • Report Methodology
    • Capsule Profile
    • Whole Foods Market Progress
      • Table Growth of Whole Foods Market, 2009-2013
    • Trimmed Financial Guidance
    • Projecting 1,200 U.S. Stores
    • Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's
      • Table Whole Foods Market vs. Trader Joe's, 2013
    • Upsurge of Competition in Natural Foods
      • Table Selected Fresh and Natural Foods Competitors, 2013
    • 12% of Adults Shop at Whole Foods
    • Percentage of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's Shoppers on the Ups
      • Table Trends in Retail Shopping, 2004-2013 (percent of U.S. adults)
    • High Socioeconomic Status Characterizes Whole Foods and Trader Joe's Shoppers
    • AttitudesToward Food
    • Shopping Attitudes and Behaviors
    • Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Environmental Concerns
      • Organic, Whole Grains, &Fresh Labels Sought by Whole Foods Shoppers
  • Whole Foods Market
    • Scope of Report
    • Report Methodology
    • Capsule Profile
    • Whole Foods Market Progress
      • Table Growth of Whole Foods Market, 2009-2013
    • Financial Guidance
    • Projecting 1,200 U.S. Stores
    • Founding and Expansion
    • Potential for Online Sales
    • Mission/Position
    • Stores
    • New Store Size Shrinking
    • Weak International Presence
    • Opening Stores in Inner-City Neighborhoods
    • Store Design and Amenities
      • Drink while Grocery Shopping
    • Product Mix
    • Strong Focus on Prepared Foods and In-Store Dining
    • Product Standards and Programs
    • Private Label
    • Whole Foods Market's Pricing
    • Special Deals and "Flash Sales"
    • Whole Foods Testing Loyalty Program
    • Whole Foods Offers Coupons to Dominick's Shoppers
    • Organizational Structure
    • Purchasing Structure
    • A Company Built on Teamwork
    • Robb Stepping into the Spotlight
    • Superior Customer Service
    • Ethical Initiatives
      • Sustainable Seafood
      • Animal Welfare
      • Health Starts Here
      • Whole Foods Sets 2018 Deadline for Non-GMO Labeling
      • Rooftop and Other Gardens
    • Environmental Stewardship
    • Advertising and Marketing: Mission Driven Values and Aggressive PR Images
      • Table 2012 Advertising and Marketing Expenses: Whole Foods Market vs. Safeway
    • Strong Social Media Presence
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Pinterest
      • Tumblr
      • Instagram
      • Google+
    • Dark Rye on TV
    • Community Involvement
    • Whole Foods Venturing Beyond Food
      • Whole Foods Launches Foodie Adventure Tours
      • and Music Albums
      • Will Whole Foods Open a Health Resort?
    • Criticism and Controversies
    • Appeal Broadening to Mainstream Consumers
  • Retail Competition
    • Competition from Other Retailers
    • Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's
      • Table Whole Foods Market vs. Trader Joe's, 2013
    • Upsurge of Competition in Natural Foods
      • Table Selected Fresh and Natural Foods Competitors, 2013
    • Sprouts Farmers Market Positions as Less Expensive
    • Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Planning Major Expansion
    • The Fresh Market Tries Expanding from Regional to National
    • Fairway Market
    • Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Just Starting Up
    • Will Wild Oats Return?
      • The Fresh & Easy Fiasco
    • Mrs. Green's Natural Markets
    • Kroger Targeting Natural and Organic Foods
  • The Natural Food Store Shopper
    • About the Consumer Survey Data
    • 12% of Adults Shop at Whole Foods Market
    • Percentage of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's Shoppers on the Ups
      • Table Trends in Retail Shopping, 2004-2013 (percent of U.S. adults)
    • High Socioeconomic Status Characterizes Whole Foods and Trader Joe's Shoppers
    • Least Likely Shoppers Have Low Education and Income
      • Table Selected High-Index Demographics of Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe's Shoppers, 2013 (index)
      • Table Demographic Overview of Whole Foods Shoppers, 2013 (percent, number and index of U.S. adults)
      • Table Demographic Overview of Trader Joe's Shoppers, 2013 (percent, number and index of U.S. adults)
    • Attitudes Toward Food
      • Table Consumer Attitudes/Opinions Toward Food: All Consumers vs. Any Supermarket/Supercenter, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's Shoppers, 2013 (percent and index of U.S. adults)
      • Table Consumer Attitudes/Opinions Toward Food: All Consumers vs. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Independent Natural Food Store Shoppers, 2014 (percent)
      • Organic, Whole Grains, and Fresh Among Tags Sought Out by Whole Foods Shoppers
      • 19% of Whole Foods Shoppers Spend $150+ Weekly on Groceries
    • Shopping Attitudes and Behaviors
      • Table Consumer Attitudes/Behaviors Toward Shopping: All Consumers vs. Any Supermarket/ Supercenter, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's Shoppers, 2013 (percent and index of U.S. adults)
    • Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Environmental Concerns
      • Table Consumer Attitudes/Behaviors Toward Environmental Concerns: All Grocery Shoppers vs. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's Shoppers, 2013 (percent any agree and index of U.S. adults)

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