Whole Foods Planning Lower-Cost Chain Aimed At — You Guessed It — Millennials

The magic “M” word is making changes in the consumer world yet again: This time that all-consuming desire to reach millennials that we’ve seen everywhere from fast food to department stores has struck Whole Foods, prompting the company to announce a lower-cost chain designed especially to lure in the younger set.

The company announced that it’s going to launch a sister chain of stores that are smaller and targeted at younger shoppers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

While it’s unclear whether employees at the chain will communicate entirely by hashtags and ironic graphic tees, Whole Foods says prices will be lower at the new stores, which will also cost less to run and be (sigh) “hip, cool, and tech-oriented,” co-founder and co-Chief Executive John Mackey said.

He didn’t give any other details, such how many stores are planned, or whether or not there will be a lingo handbook for higher-ups to translate the mysterious murmurings of millennials, but did say Whole Foods is signing leases right now and will have more to share at an investor event this summer.

“We’re still light years ahead of others, so it’s going to take them a while to catch up,” Mackey added, noting that while there is now more competition with others jumping on the organic- and natural-food bandwagon, Whole Foods has been driving that wagon for a while.

But some analysts are concerned that Whole Foods won’t be able to grow to 1,200 stores in the U.S. from its current 417 and foster these new cheaper chains. Those millennial shops could cannibalize the main stores’ sales, critics say.

“You have to be willing to evolve with the marketplace,” Mackey said. “You can’t not do that because it might possibly take sales from your existing flagship brand.”

Instead, the company says the new stores will work alongside the existing brand to bring in younger people who don’t want to pay Whole Foods prices but want healthy, good food that comes from ethically sourced places that the store is known for. It’s an “and” to the brand, not an “or,” Mackey noted.

Whole Foods Plans Lower-Cost Chain [Wall Street Journal]

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