Whole Foods market wants to get to know it customers a little bit better and thus are doing the only rational thing: joining forces with some of the nation's best-known analytics experts over at Nielsen to gain that deeper data-driven insight.
Nielsen will be the primary U.S. analytics provider for Whole Food's POS data, consumer insights and industry metrics. The two firms will additionally collaborate on creating a customized natural and organic product hierarchy. The point of such a creation will be to offer an extremely granular view of Whole Food's product categories, right down to the ingredients and their features.
The point of the pair-up is twofold. It allows Whole Foods and its suppliers to make better and faster decisions about what to stock, sell and push in the future. Furthermore, the hope is that it will also allow the retailer the type of insight into consumer preferences that allows them to get ahead of the curve when it comes to new offerings.
In addition to the development of the customized hierarchy, Nielsen will provide measurement and marketing analytics for all U.S. Whole Foods Market stores.
"Whole Foods Market has long been a great retail artist," said Don Clark, Whole Foods Market's global VP of procurement, non-perishables. "This partnership allows us to better blend the art and science of food retail, helping us compete more effectively in a very dynamic environment."
Data, particularly about product, is unusually important to Whole Foods since its business model is bent on competing on quality of goods, not lowest possible price. That model worked very well when they were the only organic grocer in the game, and less well when larger players decided to tap the market and offer other organics at a much lower price. Whole Foods' pricing become a major detractor at that point.
But Whole Foods has maintained all along that not all organics are created equal, and that it is still the undisputed leader in quality. The new product hierarchy will likely go a long way to proving that.
And even if not, one would like to think that minimally it will keep them from dropping asparagus in to a bottle of water, shelving it, and charging $6 for it.