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The Experience Brands Weekly #146

Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods: Why and What Next?

Last week Amazon purchased Whole Foods, sending shockwaves through the retail world on both sides of the Atlantic. As Matthew Heath put it, the ‘very presence of the super-sophisticated selling and delivering skills of Amazon on the high street are enough to strike fear into the hearts of rivals’. So what happens next?


The motivations behind the purchase have been much discussed – is it a simple play to increase efficiency by giving Amazon access to the Whole Foods estate to reduce delivery times for e-commerce grocery? In one move, Amazon have created ‘an express highway’ from their warehouse to people’s homes, raising home delivery to a whole new level. It is not only retailers who need to be afraid, brands should be worried, as Martin Lindstrom highlights, as the move ‘is also likely to skip conventional brands altogether’ as private labels takeover.




However, it seems the move is really an acknowledgement by Amazon of the necessity of having a physical presence for consumers. As Fraser Mckevitt argues, ‘the power of a physical presence on the high street to grow a brand’s reputation and credibility is particularly important in grocery, where consumers want to be able to see the quality of the items they are buying first hand’. Digital alone is not enough.


We like to see our food – to judge it in the real world, not just online. The experience matters. While the acquisition of Whole Foods will help Amazon build its ecommerce delivery capability, it will more importantly help it build its reputation as a grocery supplier amongst consumers. As the shopper journey becomes ever more complex, the move highlights the importance of having a physical presence, especially in the grocery sector, as part of a seamless shopper experience delivered in every channel.


Retailers, and other brands, are right to be concerned. As Matthew Knight puts it, this is ‘yet another wake-up call to not only the grocery market but UK retailers at large. If you are not already looking forward to how your business can lean into new opportunities, leverage new technology and understand new consumer behaviours and dynamics, then you are simply waiting for your lunch to be eaten.’ Change is happening, fast, and the next one will be right around the corner.


Other bites:

Somerset House: Perfume Exhibition

Somerset House have a new exhibition called ‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scetn’ which examines the importance of perfume in the 20th Century and shows some of the perfume pioneers from the past two decades. Running throughout the summer, this promises to be a sensory experience, from a room where you can smell an extinct vintage perfume from Francois Coty, to 10 interactive installations and even a fully functioning laboratory, all of which can be recorded in your own personal ‘notes-book’. With scent infused items, visual reputations of different scents and panel discussions and workshops throughout the summer, this is a sensory overload that your nose will love.



Netflix: Interactive Content

Netflix are expanding their offering to interactive programming for kids. Two years in the making, for the first time, viewers will be able to choose their own adventures and determine where the story will go. Pushing the boundaries of storytelling by providing a unique and engaging experience.



Icelandair: Immersive Theatre in the Sky

To celebrate their 80th birthday, Icelandair are taking immersive theatre to new heights. Onboard one of the London to New York flights in September, passengers will experience a theatre performance in three acts – one on the flight to Iceland, one at the Icelandair Saga Lounge at Keflavik airport, and the final act during the flight to New York. The piece will take the guests from the airline’s beginnings in 1937 through to today and into the future, starring Icelandair staff. To get a seat for this performance in the sky, passengers need to enter a competition on the Icelandair website. A flight you are not likely to forget.