Whole Foods Market - Digital Strategy

Whole Foods Market is America’s Healthiest Grocery Store®. This successful grocery chain centers itself on the core value of selling the highest quality natural and organic foods available. This digital strategy will focus on a campaign that will allow Whole Foods to appeal to the growing demographic of health conscious individuals and turn them into loyal, core customers. In developing this digital strategy, I followed this structure from Macala Wright:

  • Plan and assess
  • Create and launch
  • Choose the right platforms
  • Engage and cultivate
  • Measure and evaluate

Whole Foods Market is the leading retail provider of natural and organic foods. Richard Seesel, Principal at Retailing in Focus, LLC notes that while Whole Foods competitors (chain supermarkets – Kroger and Safeway and mass merchandisers – Wal-Mart and Target) may have dabbled in “organics” and fresh-prepared food, nobody at this point can touch Whole Foods as the category-killer in the organic and natural food business. So the goal of this digital campaign is to expand the core customer base by educating the growing number of people in America making healthier lifestyle decisions that Whole Foods is the best place for them to purchase their groceries. Not only will these health conscious families reap all of the benefits that organic foods have to offer, but they will also be supporting local farmers and food producers.

The success of this campaign will be shown thru increased traffic of new customers to Whole Foods. The strategy is a widespread national campaign that will reach out to consumers on a local level. This will accomplish both informing people of the organic foods benefits as well as promoting each store locally, which will then drive the new customers into the stores. Once they get into the stores, they will be amazed at the quality, care and outstanding customer service they will receive and keep them coming back in the future. Use of mobile, website and social media coupons will also be a way to gauge the success of this campaign.

Key performance indicators will be measured by increased social media fans, which will translate into new customers. These new customers will want to checkout their local Whole Foods based on the engaging content (organic benefits and supporting farmers in the community) provided to them. The local Facebook pages will have the greatest impact. Today for example, both the Troy and Orchard Lake stores only each have about 2,000 Facebook fans. Local pages will at least double their fandom by adding more local content and promotions. This will in turn drive consumers to the website, Twitter feeds, Pinterest and other social media. Google Analytics will be tracking all engagement to provide data with what is and is not working, so adjustments can be made when necessary.

Target Demographic

According to a report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), consumers are eating out less and preparing more food at home. FMI CEO Leslie Sarasin notes “that the food the consumers eat at home is healthier than eating away from home”. So Whole Foods is in the position to help the customers save money and make healthier choices when it comes to what they eat. FMI says a consumer selects their shopping store based on price, quality produce and store promotions. 

The Whole Foods target demographic will be:

  • Health and fitness conscious
  • Educated professionals with mid-high level incomes
  • 25-44 (average age group of 1.2mm Facebook fans)
  • Multi-cultural and diverse

I want to reach out to the consumer who will be experiencing Whole Foods for the first time. The draw will be the best quality, healthy and organic foods. Also the emotional appeal will be the knowledge that purchasing from Whole Foods is sustaining local farmers and producers. This group of health-conscious individuals and families want to make the best food buying decisions. This campaign is centered on educational content regarding the benefits on an organic and sustainable way of life.

Tools and Tactics

Content is everything. David Meerman Scott says (pg. 30 of The New Rules of Marketing & PR), “understanding buyers and building an effective content strategy to reach them is critical for success.” Consistent, educational, fun and smart content will be the driver of this campaign. The writers of the content will focus on the key phrases of Organic Food and All Natural Local Produce. This content will be linked to everything – website, blogs, social media, internet marketing – so that the consumer will find Whole Foods at precisely the moment they are looking to elevate their healthy buying experiences and support their local community. Photography will also be a very important piece of the content, images of delicious food will help to draw in the consumers. 

Internet Marketing

The corporate website already has a great tone, it is fun and hip. I want to expand and grow the local store pages, as the Events on some are out of date (and therefore the pages look neglected). The next step will be to update both the corporate and local pages with content rich keywords and phrases. This will build a solid online presence for SEO with clean, simple landing pages that tout the benefits of organics with visible links to local pages. The local store sites will have landing pages showing delicious products with the farmers in the area who support the store. The call to action will express that buying organically means you are supporting local farmers and therefore your own community. 

Both the corporate and local pages will feature blogs. The corporate blogs will have a farmer/producer highlighted each week (their story, what they produce, what store they supply with pictures and a very personal feel). These will also be pushed out as new releases to be picked up by local media. The local store sites can have farmers contribute directly to the blog (a day in the life of type of story) and an Organics 101 story each week focusing on different produce and meats, with recipe ideas. The blogs will have social plug-ins to share content across the users' social media sites. 

The Organics 101 concept can also be produced as email newsletters featuring a product each week, that would include health benefits, how to choose (color or smell), how to store at home and some recipe ideas. Again, with SEO and the correct content these will be available on the website and will pull up in searches (example- how to cook acorn squash) drawing new consumers straight to the website.

A Google Adwords campaign will be established, designed to drive traffic to the website to increase awareness on the benefits of organic foods. Not only do organic foods taste better, but the positive health factors and ability to support local farmers may not be known by the average consumer. The campaigns will link back to the landing page of the corporate site, so the person searching can read about organic benefits and can immediately go to their local store page to see their local farmers firsthand.

I will use two ads to support this campaign. The analytics determining the optimal daily budget are below.

AD #1

Headline - Organic Food

Content - Large selection of Organic fruits, vegetables and meats.

(benefit is large selections, feature is organic items)

Whole Foods URL posted going to landing page

Keywords - organic produce, USDA certified organic, healthy organic food, fresh seasonal produce

AD #2

Headline - All Natural Local Produce

Content - Support Local Farmers by purchasing healthy Organic produce.

(benefit is supporting local farmers, feature is organic produce)

Whole Foods URL posted going to landing page

Keywords - local family farms, locally raised meats, sustainable organic produce, produce locally sourced

I will also produce a series of banner ads. These will feature delicious produce, seasonal recipes and mention of Whole Foods Market as America’s healthiest grocery store. These banner ads will be “Pinnable” on Pinterest, to tie into the social media element of this campaign. So clicking on these ads (from the web or from Pinterest) will draw the consumer to the website.

Banner Ad


Social Media

Facebook will be used to primarily engage with consumers. Again, similar to the website, there is a corporate page and each store will then have their own local page. Facebook will have a fun and interactive vibe, with quick and honest responses to consumers building trust.

The corporate page will feature:

  • Daily promotions/giveaways - if you “like” the page there will be a random drawing to receive a $10 off coupon for your next visit of $50 or more
  • Contests - recipes, most beautiful dishes, seasonal ideas (can also be on Pinterest)
  • All blogs will be posted

The local page will have the primary focus of community:

  • Blogs will be posted
  • Images of farmers and their farms will be featured
  • Community events and involvement
  • In-store specific events – classes on cooking, wines, how to select a cut of meat
  • Store specific coupons for “likes” and local contests or giveaways

Twitter will primarily be used to monitor what people are saying about Whole Foods. Responding to and re-tweeting some of these messages will be a way to interact without pushing products. The corporate Twitter site will follow other health bloggers and build relationships by being a member of the community. The local stores will also have their own Twitter pages and run promotions (shop today between 2pm-6pm and receive 10% off your total bill). They can also promote in-store events to draw in more traffic.

A series of videos will be created for YouTube. These videos are a way to visually appeal to new consumers, by showing how the stores are set up, all of the fine quality products inside and interviews with current core customers about why they shop at Whole Foods. Also local farmers can be featured in videos for a personal connection with who is supplying the produce. These videos will be available on the website and posted on a weekly basis to Facebook.

Pinterest is the perfect vehicle for my demographic, A Marketers Guide to Pinterest notes that is 60% of pinners are women and 80% are 25-54. This will be an important visual element of the digital campaign and will be integrated (“Pin It” button) within the other social media components (also banner ads with embedded button). All Pinterest pins will contain keyword rich text for SEO. Pinterest contests will be a great way to engage consumers and can also be linked through Facebook . Contest example:

  • Picture many ingredients (fresh produce, a meat (or tofu) and then a few Whole Foods brand products) with the objective to use a specific number (4 or 5, similar to Food Network Show Top Chef) of the ingredients to create a delicious meal. The consumer will go to the website and pin what products they are using and which Whole Foods they shop at to a specifically created board. The recipe and images will be submitted and the winner will be featured on the website and Facebook page. See ad example below.


The website, both corporate and local pages, will be mobile friendly. The coupons available from Facebook and Twitter will produce a scanable code on a smart phone for immediate in-store use. Each store would post signs to “Like us on Facebook” to receive instant savings - example 10% off or buy $10 of frozen foods for $2 off -  to catch any of those not already liking the Whole Foods page. Whole Foods already has a great app – Whole Foods Market Recipes – including a recipe search, creating recipes for items you have on hand and a store locator. I would add a bar code scanner to this, to save new items to try, pull up recipe ideas and track/store nutritional information.


This budget works out to a $45,000-$50,000 spend (depending on coupon and contest redemptions) per month. This includes all staff, maintenance and analytics.  Whole Foods Market current employs a Social Media Management company – Spredfast - to manage social media across multiple local, regional, and corporate presences. This will continue and allow for targeted content to be coordinated with a consistent message to the proper channels for the corporate and local levels.

  • Social Media ($20,000) – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest – will turn the Whole Foods followers into consumers.
  • Promotions and Contests ($5,000-$10,000) – Facebook, Pinterest and all in-store coupons. Engagement with customer with rewards for shopping.
  • SEO ($7,500) will build a solid online presence. These keywords and phrases will be used in all digital media.
  • Content ($7,500) is the soul of the campaign. All efforts revolve around the same content.
  • Mobile ($5,000) – immediate gratification in store and app maintenance/development.

Whole Foods is already king in their category of organic, natural foods. This campaign will grow the core customers by educating health conscious people on the benefits of organic for their bodies with the added benefit of supporting the local community. Content will tie together the efforts of internet marketing and social media to produce a united brand image at both the corporate and local levels. Constant interaction and open engagement with the consumer on all platforms will reinforce the Whole Foods Market brand as America’s Healthiest Grocery Store®.