Last week, Whole Foods announced the launch of a new chain of grocery stores. Described as “a smaller-store concept where value meets quality,” the new chain is intended as a downscale retail outlet, offering affordable basics from the Whole Foods line. The launch of these pared-down stores comes as Whole Foods is losing ground to mainstream grocers who are integrating organic and specialty foods into their markets.
365 by Whole Foods Market is the full name of the new chain. It’s a familiar one: 365 Everyday Value is the name of Whole Foods’ lower-priced store-brand offerings. Borrowing a name from an established brand, rather than coining a new one, has its advantages. It guarantees immediate recognition and ties the new venture to proven successes. But it also hems the name in, and in this case it introduces some confusion. Will 365 stores sell only 365 products? Common sense says no, given that the store brand doesn’t include any produce.
The name itself does the work it needs to do. In its new incarnation, 365 doesn’t literally say “Everyday Value,” but the metaphor is there and it’s obvious to anyone who has spent time in a Whole Foods. The target audience seems to be the occasional Whole Foods shopper who can’t afford to fill a cart or rely on the chain for basics. This name promises to be a place to do just that, attempting to shake the derisive “Whole Paycheck” moniker in the process.
There’s a sense of reliability and constancy in the name (open year-round), as well as an allusion to “natural” food, helped by the store brand’s. But these are tenuous associations, and they’re only there because of previous branding efforts by Whole Foods. In this respect, 365 is something of an empty vessel name. It could easily have bargain bin connotations but for the parent company’s investment. It’s too early to tell, but 365 looks to be a successful tightrope walk between yuppie indulgence and Val U Mart deal-making.