Some interesting giblets in Whole Foods 10-K

November 27, 2012

A day before Thanksgiving, when shoppers were busy stuffing their carts with heritage free-range turkeys, Whole Foods filed its 10-K. While we didn’t see anything major, we did come across a few interesting (and new) giblets that we thought were worth sharing.

One of the first things that caught our attention was a new disclosure about how Whole Foods customers connect with the store. The filing went on to describe four types of Whole Foods customers. Apparently, the company has done a fair amount of market research on this topic, which led to this new disclosure in the 10-K:

Unlike shoppers at conventional grocery stores, we believe many of our customers connect with us on a deeper level because of our shared values and, for this reason, continue to shop with us even in uncertain economic times. Based on our research, we believe our customers can be segmented into four broad categories. Conscionables embody the Core Values of Whole Foods Market; they support social and environmental initiatives and are frequent shoppers who spend the largest proportion of their monthly grocery bill with us. Organics buy organically grown food as a way to maintain their personal health and for food safety reasons. Foodies equate food with love and are frequent shoppers who shop our stores for selection, value and convenience, and  Experientials are driven to Whole Foods Market for unique products and special occasion items.

Now it’s not uncommon for companies to segment their customers into different groups. I vaguely remember something similar from my years spent at a Gannett (GCI) newspaper many moons ago. But it is uncommon to see this laid out in a 10-K.

But that wasn’t the only interesting detail. There was also a new disclosure about Whole Foods customers and their use of social media. According to research the company has done, 47% of their customers visit Facebook daily and another 31% visit Twitter. The disclosure goes on to note that:

Currently, we have over 725,000 fans 1 million “likes” on Facebook and over two 3 million followers on Twitter, making us the top retail brand on Twitter. In addition, many of our stores have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts that allow them to connect more directly to the tastes and needs of the communities they serve. We also are increasing our presence on new social networks like Pinterest and Instagram to broaden our reach.

I took a quick look at the main twitter feed for Whole Foods and sure enough, they have 3.06 million followers. While I haven’t looked at every retailer, I did take a quick look at Wal-Mart, which is much bigger in size, and its followers on Twitter are less than 1/10 of Whole Foods.

Just some interesting food for thought.

Posted in: Disclosures, Strategy

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Companies Mentioned: Whole Foods Market, Inc.,
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