On Saturday, prior to making my way to Whole Foods, I encountered organic sugar at Wal-Mart and organic quinoa at Costco.
Would one have found those products at Wal-Mart or Costco ten years ago? Five years ago? Two years ago?
My neighborhood Safeway just announced a “second grand-opening.” The major change: a large section that looks like the Whole Foods aisle with loose grains and cereals and related products.
These moves by competitors–the fact that their business models now see Whole Foods as a direct competitor–say many things.
For certain they represent unmistakable, if unspoken bows to Whole Foods’ influence and penetration.
Peter Drucker warned of the dangers of 40 years of success. At the moment, of course, we have little need for reminders of longtime success ending in catastrophic failure (see, e.g. “Big Three” U.S. automakers).
Whole Foods, including its predecessors, is approaching that 40-year mark–and in a recession occasioning significant consumer adjustments.
Will the company’s business model be limited by its reputation as a niche player, “Whole Paycheck”?
These questions point to the Whole Foods leadership challenge.
I’m betting that the Whole Foods will navigate the transition effectively. Their management approach appears well-suited to maintain an ongoing leadership role.
Whole Foods Leadership Challenge