For the next 10 weeks, Whole Foods is running print advertisements in New York City emphasizing “value” and “deals” — two words not generally associated with the chain that inspired the quip “Whole Foods, Whole Paycheck.
But Whole Foods says the widely held perception that its prices are higher than its competitors’ is simply untrue. With regional supermarkets leaping into organic foods and its scrappy rival Trader Joe’s growing at a rapid pace, it says, the time has come to set the record straight. Portraying itself as inexpensive, however, could prove tricky for Whole Foods. After all, the chain’s perceived elitism — encouraged by the company or not — has earned it a cultlike following among well-heeled, health-obsessed professionals, who consider it a badge of honor to buy their fair-trade organic coffee, cage-free eggs and hydrogenated-oil-free cookies there.