Whole Foods may be considering adding a tattoo parlor to its new chain aimed at millennial shoppers. A new store model, named 365 by Whole Foods Market, is the organic grocer’s latest attempt to reach a younger, more budget-conscious consumer.
Now outnumbering Baby Boomers, the millennial generation has become the largest age group and Whole Foods has had problems in the past attracting this crowd. The organic grocery giant has been tinkering with different out-of-the-box ideas for the past year to widen its appeal beyond groceries.
Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer for Whole Foods says the company has a unique plan to entice younger shoppers. Part of that plan is to provide outside services and products inside the 365 stores tailored to meet millennial interests.
Each store will have a mix of outside vendors offering a range of products and services from food and drink to fashion and body care products. Some of these outside merchants may even include a record shop or tattoo parlor.
Known as “Friends of 365,” Whole Foods is actively recruiting new partners in several categories to give customers a unique shopping experience. Whole Foods is asking potential vendors to send them an email if they want to be considered.
One possible outside partner could be Mendocino Farms. Partially owned by Whole Foods, the restaurant chain may have the opportunity to open up new locations right inside the 365 stores. Having a restaurant that offers freshly prepared meals, like sandwiches and “not so fried” chicken, would be a natural fit for the new concept.
The company has not revealed if any new vendors have been officially picked.
Often referred to as “whole paycheck,” Whole Foods has struggled to compete against lower-priced rivals like Trader Joe’s. In November, the company introduced a plan to change their reputation by increasing discounts.
“There’s a number of smaller-store competitors out there that are doing a nice job,” Robb said. “We don’t see any reason why we can’t go participate in that part of the market.”
Whole Food executives say the drop was likely due to the fewer number of transactions at the stores coupled with aggressive marketing campaigns that offered price reductions on certain popular items. During a conference call earlier this week, the company announced it will continue its price reduction strategy by offering digital coupons within its smartphone app.
Despite the new price markdowns, a recent survey by BMO Capital Markets revealed that 70 percent of Whole Foods shoppers had not noticed any price reductions in the last three months.
Critics of the new 365 store concept see the same collision course experienced recently by Walmart. The retail giant launched a line of smaller, convenience-type stores in areas where it didn’t make sense to put a gigantic supercenter. The stores never caught on and the Walmart Express concept eventually imploded.
The first 365 store is expected to open in Los Angeles sometime around May, and an additional 10 total stores before the end of next year. In the meantime, millennials can start thinking about the design they want before visiting the Whole Foods tattoo parlor.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]