Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm onto you, Whole Foods

A loss leader or leader (also called a key value item in the United Kingdom) is a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other, profitable sales. It is a kind of sales promotion, in other words marketing concentrating on a pricing strategy. The price can even be so low that the product is sold at a loss. A loss leader is often a popular article.

Dear Whole Foods:

Bah to you and your loss leader business model. You and your lavender shampoo that you sell at 32 ounces for $3.79 that I must have. Bah!

I go to you for shampoo. If I were a bigger person I would just take $4 in cash to pay for your wonderful shampoo and exit quietly, but I am not. I am weak.

One use of a loss leader is to draw customers into a store where they are likely to buy other goods. The vendor expects that the typical customer will purchase other items at the same time as the loss leader and that the profit made on these items will be such that an overall profit is generated for the vendor.

Do I just buy your wonderful shampoo? Nooooooooooooooooooooo. There's also the bulk orzo I MIGHT AS WELL stock up on WHILE I'M HERE, the chlorine-free diapers I MIGHT AS WELL try. And look! A sale on mangoes! Practically local, from Mexico. It would be a crime NOT to take advantage. Lo and behold, 15 items later--

A loss leader item is usually a product that customers purchase frequently—thus they are aware of the usual price and that the offered price is a bargain.

But I'm onto you, Whole Foods. $67 seems high, even for you and your eerily colorful produce displays. For once in five years, I pause to look at my receipt. I'm the savvy shopper, me. I stop the nice customer service lady, who if I had to guess is working for THE MAN to fund her rock band. I'm all, excuse me! I have been overcharged! Look! (And when I say that I said I have been overcharged, I mean that I said it's probably me, not you, could you possibly take a moment to check yourself to tell me of my idiotic mistake because I am a BAD person). I continue all, I'm pretty sure I didn't buy $11 worth of raisins. In fact I am quite sure, but maybe I did because I am an idiot like that. And thank you, lady, for taking time out of your busy day in which you are PAID to do exactly what you are doing by helping me. THANK YOU.

And she's all, yes! I will help you! You have come to the right place! Oh, you didn't buy $11 worth of raisins? Let's see here.

And I'm all, I love you. You will make it all okay because I didn't just spend $67 on shampoo. I didn't.

And she's all looking at the receipt and my stuff and I'm whimpering all, you're welcome to look to see if I have raisins here. Sorry sorry sorry sorry.

And then she's all AHA! I see it! I think the guy keyed in the wrong code for your bulk orzo. Oh yes, you should save some money for sure. Let's see that credit card again. We'll take care of you.

And I'm all, I still have no raisins, but THANK HEAVENS for that and surely my bill will now be the $4 it should have been. THANK HEAVENS for you, rock band Whole Foods lady. You are on MY SIDE.

And she takes her authoritative Whole Foods manager pen and makes initials (INITIALS!) and circles the flagrant error with the coding of bulk raisins instead of bulk orzo. I sigh with relief and a feeling of great safety in her initials.

A loss leader may be placed at the back of a store, so that purchasers must walk past racks of other displayed goods which have higher profit margins.

Then she weighs my bulk orzo and makes some tip-tapping on her calculator, scratches her head a bit. And she's all, right! We have saved you some money here. $3.68! Would you like that back in cash or on your card?

And I'm all, WHAT? That's it? The rest of it is stuff that I really bought? So it's $64 shampoo instead of $67 shampoo? Crap! (And when I say I said WHAT? I mean that I said thank you, you've been a great help, right, thanks, great. Bye!)

Bah to you, Whole Foods. Bah. Bah. Bah.

And, party at my house because I am the proud owner of 3.68 pounds of orzo. Dude.



Anonymous said...

LOL, I love you for being a slave to your shampoo.
I'm chuckling about *loss leaders*, welcome to my world, wife of the supermarket manager. And you know what, HE'S the one that buys all sorts of stuff because it's on special.
"I got 3 loaves of bread because it was 3 for $5"
"But I wanted one."
"Yeah, but we save money this way."
"No, because you paid five bucks for three loaves when you could have paid $2.20 for one. We are out of pocket by $2.80"
"Yeah but we have 3 loaves!"
"Which we will end up feeding to the birds. Next time buy ONE. like I told you to."
"Mumble, mumble".

Maggie, Dammit said...

I am printing this out and reading it to everyone I know.

The funny thing is, I really could have walked out of that place with just the shampoo and the $67 receipt and it would not have occurred to me that I was overcharged because Whole Paycheck has me so conditioned. I am a good sheep. I follow the flock. No questions asked. Baaaaa.

Rima said...

I KNOW what you mean about Whole Foods!!!! There are so many shiny things in there, you can't possibly just go in for milk and eggs, or, in your case, shampoo (will have to try that lavender stuff, BTW.) I almost bought like twenty dollars worth of candy covered sesame seeds when I was there earlier this week. Because those are, like, totally a staple of every household pantry. Doood.

Professor J said...

My mother used to call that the twenty dollar loaf of bread. Inflation, you know.

Lisa Milton said...

I know I wasn't alone in my conspiracy theory.

Maybe we should shop, en masse.

There's power in numbers.

smalltownmom said...

I see "BUNNIES" on the receipt. Bunnies?

Mama Goose said...

I can't even go in there anymore. Oh, wait. I need shampoo. Uh oh. Help me!

Irene said...

Always make a list and stick to it. Don't do any impulsive shopping and if you want to buy something self indulgent, write it on your list when you are still at home. That way it is planned and you're still getting away with something. If you don't do that, somebody is just making a lot of money off you, sweetie. Think of the money you'll save.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have heard about the money pit that is Whole Foods. I'm sticking with my my tried and true Trader Joe's!

Melissa said...

So are those the Annie's Cheddar Bunnies?

Austin is WFM mecca. But a really strong local grocery store is getting it's house in order pretty quick. But WFM has just enough of those products to keep me coming back, at about 50 bucks a pop. :)

Found you through mama-om's linky love today. :)

Jen @ The Cubicle's Backporch said...

I love it!

One time, Lowe's charged me $3.00 instead of $1.50 for three bags of gravel that I got off the 50% off/ripped bag area. So I SO went back and got my $3.50 back. I was so stinkin' proud of finding those ripped bags and they tried to take it away from me! hee hee. Of course I wasted more gas going back to get my money back than I saved, but STILL. It was the point.

Anonymous said...

We buy our diapers there, but what I try to do is stock up on all Whole Foods items in one shop so that I don't find myself with all that orzo.

Jennifer said...

I kid you not: I spent $54 today AT WHOLE FOODS when I went in for their LAVENDER BODY WASH. We're like twins. Except me with the body wash. And I "only" spent $54 for it. ($5 of which I ate in the car on the way home.)

I see the beginnings of a support groups, here.

Isn't that lavender stuff they have to die for? Mmm. I just can't start my day without that body wash...

JCK said...

It's too bad orzo doesn't work on hair.

All Adither said...

So true. Though if you got out of there spending just $64 you're pretty good. I'm always well over the 100 dollar mark.

Vanessa said...

Party at your house? I'm so there! What should I bring to go with the orzo? Or should I just bring a dessert? I make a great homemade cheesecake!

Seriously, Whole Foods seems to strip my sanity the moment I walk in the door and only return it to me once I'm back in the car driving away.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I totally hear you. I stopped in the market the other day to pick up dinner fixins and spent $80. We could have gone out to eat for that.

Mac and Cheese said...

Fortunately, Whole Foods is too much of a hassle to get to from my house, so they haven't sucked me in yet.

Wendy said...

Having my totally inconvenient location on an island with no Whole Foods or Trader Joe's has saved me (and the bank account) more than once)! I'm usually into three digits at those stores.... Sigh.

MamaBird said...

Just think lavender=man boobs (google endocrine disruptor + lavender + tea tree oil) and it'll nip this in the bud. That and bringing Irene shopping with you. Or you might as well just wrap your heart around the ($16 tub of) Marcona olive-oil-fried almonds.

sarah bean said...

Hee! I don't remember how you happened to be in my feed reader. But I'm glad you are. Even if I am going to spend the rest of the day wondering what orzo is. Before I finally give up and get out of bed at 3am to google it. Won't google it now, that would be too easy.
Enjoy your shampoo!! ;)

Melissa said...

I loved this. I don't even have a comment that's worthy of it. I just loved this :)

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