Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Conscious Leaders Care about WFM

Whole Foods Market a.k.a. WFM has taken some heat lately for a decrease in their stock price. This dip is attributed to competitors who have started to offer healthier (not healthy) products at a lower price. This has exacerbated the use of the moniker that many non-Whole Foods folks love to repeat, “Whole Paycheck.” It comes from people who want their cake and to eat it too.

Well, in this post, we will explore some of the factors that continue to make WFM a great company. These are just a few of the reasons we still love going there, despite other options where a few bucks might be saved.

The Hip Factor
A few years ago, I met a good friend for lunch at the Whole Foods in Richmond, Va. It turns out that he had never been there. His first words as we walked around the store was, “Dude, this place is awesome.” I echo my friend’s sentiment, which he said over and over again during our visit, “this place is cool” and “this place is amazing.” WFM is the king of cool. How many other businesses can one say that about?

The Trailblazer Factor
One could argue that the health food industry would not even exist, at least in the form that we know it, were it not for Whole Foods. In 30 years, they took what was once considered “something the hippies did” into the mainstream.

The Stakeholder Factor
It is quite likely that 80% of the great natural/organic products and supplements we know and love would not be available if they were not sold by Whole Foods. Sure, other stores are now undercutting the price, but at what cost? Squeezing the producers? If the people who create the high quality products are not able to stay profitable, they will not stay in business for long. Cheap is expensive!

The Single Mom Factor
This is about a single Mom working at WFM who does not have to work a second or third job to make ends meet. She is able to be home with the kids at night. She has a full benefits package.

The Hot Food and Big-A Salad Factor
At least on the East Coast of the U.S., finding natural and organic prepared food is nearly impossible. That is unless you venture into WFM. The salad bar is always huge, always fresh and always stocked with organic kale, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, etc. Hint, if you want to make an organic pizza, get all the toppings pre-cut at the WFM salad bar! Plus it by using eggplant slices as the base instead of wheat!

The Higher Purpose Factor
Last but certainly not least is the question of Higher Purpose. Sure, other stores are now carrying some of the same products that WFM does (they actually check to see what WFM is selling), at a lower price. The thing is, these other stores are just adding it into the mix, along with the junk food. In contrast, providing healthy food to the planet is the reason WFM exists in the first place. It is their reason for being. The other stores would have a hard time making that claim with a straight face. Who would you trust?
We will close with something that John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods said, “Too many leaders continue to believe that fear is a better motivator than love. Fear is the opposite of love. When we are completely grounded in love and care, fear is not present.”

Is WFM perfect? No. But for me, I put my money on the company grounded in love and care every time.

Do you prefer to shop at businesses with a higher purpose? How does your organization connect to a higher purpose beyond just making money?