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Jeff Bezos is one daring dude. (Wanted to use the F-bomb, but mom might be reading.) By purchasing Whole Foods he sent a shiver through the stock market, knocking some competitive grocers down significantly. He announced yesterday that Whole Foods will cut prices beginning this Monday. Some analysts predict as much as 15-25%. Oohfah. Mr. Bezos doesn’t give a rat’s ass about profitability.  He has enough money in the bank to lose near-term so he can win long-term.  A player.

Were I Mr. Bezos, here’s what I would do. Take it a step further. Reduce prices even more for one whole month. Bring prices down to Aldi range. Costco range. But only for a month. Use it as a “trial balloon.” Trial is a promotional tool known for breaking behaviors. Once people are actually in Whole Foods and shop there a cycle or two, they will be fans.

Many people who volume shop at Costco and Sam’s Club throw away perishable food. “I can buy 20 tomatoes for the price of 6. Even if I toss out 10, I come out ahead.”  Whole Foods can and will educate shoppers about better-for-you-food, healthier shopping and less waste, something that’s not happening in a Costco or BJs.  

The promotional month will be crazy — with high traffic and supply hiccups, but it will be worth it.  “Prime” the Amazon pump, Mr. Bezos. Prime the pump.



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purple carrot

Mark Bittman makes my mouth water. As a New York Times critic he excited the food world for many years. It was just announced he’s moving to start-up Purple Carrot as content creator. In this case the content will be recipes and comms. Purple Carrot is a meal delivery and some-assembly-required service.

What I like about Mr. Bittman, along with his recipes and writing, is his current mission. Quoted in today’s NYT his goal is to get “people to eat more plants.” Can’t get more focused than that. Great brand strategy.

He and start-up founder Andrew Levitt are smart marketers and brand builders. Purple carrots sounds intriguing. The “meal kit,” is an awful and un-tasty food classification, but it’s descriptive and appropriate for the time.

I spend a good deal of time in Costco and BJs and must tell you the percentage of overweight people with poor feeding habits is appalling. Obesity may be a class thing and a money thing, but if the price point of these vegan meal kits can be made elastic enough, it may open up new markets for Purple Carrot and do some real good.  I’ve done enough marketing strategy in the obesity space to know that good tasting plant-based fare has a nice economic upside. I believe Mr. Bittman’s hire will be a good one.


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