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Whole Foods exec: Be wherever the consumer is

NEW YORK ? A Whole Foods executive at the National Retail Federation conference said that a company?s purpose is about inspiration and brands and marketers need to align their goals ? for their business, stakeholders and consumers ? to see success.

During the ?Conscious Capitalism? super session at NRF, executives from Whole Foods and The Container Store said that it is important to generate every form of value that matters ? emotional, social and financial. Jonathan Sokoloff, managing partner at Leonard Green & Partners LLP, Los Angeles, also participated in the panel.

?Great companies have a great purpose,? said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX. ?Purpose creates alignment.

?Why shouldn?t businesses have the same depth and aspiration that individuals have,? he said. ?Purpose is also about inspiration ? the point is the purpoase has to go in action.

?If you don?t do something about it, it doesn?t amount to anything.?

Customer service
According to Mr. Robb, companies need to service to others and express their love and care.

Additionally, brands and marketers need to discover the pursuit of the truth, as well as search for the excellence and the quest for perfection.

Having a good balance for stakeholders is also key, per Mr. Robb.

?We do believe that it?s the job of all of us as leaders to provide the balance for stakeholders,? Mr. Robb said.

?The customer is the No. 1 stakeholder because without them you don?t have a business,? he said.

In addition to ramping up it strategy by looking at the company?s stakeholders and consumers, Whole Foods has also been looking at reach out to them through a different channel, such as mobile.

In an effort to be more convenient to its customers, the company rolled out a mobile application that helps consumers lead a healthier lifestyle.

Strategies such as this help advance Whole Foods in the mobile arena. 

According to Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, Coppell, TX, businesses have a higher purpose.

?There?s a higher purpose,? Mr. Tindell said. ?It?s about having a purpose beyond just maximizing profits for the stakeholder.

?Conscious leaders are driven by the purpose of their business,? he said. ?They see their organization as a interdependent system.

?The most powerful thing in business is synergy, which creates the most profitable endeavors.?

According to the panelists, communication is key.

When companies are looking to expand their reach in other channels, they must communicate so with their shareholders and vendors, as well as think about how their new, existing and loyal consumers will react.

Having a business plan is important, however making sure that it will be executed into an overall seamless experience is key.

For example, according to Mr. Tindell, communication and synergy are important.

The company has been doing so in the past few years. As the company continues to grow and expand, so does its strategy and being able to accommodate to consumers no matter where they are.

In addition to having a strong mobile strategy ? the company has rolled out mobile applications and delved into mobile adverting ? The Container Store is also paving the way in terms of mobile commerce by partnering with Google and accepting Google Wallet at its in-store locations.

Being wherever the consumer is is very important for a retailer such as The Container Store.

Near field communication is slated to make a big impact in 2012 and The Container Store is staying ahead of the game through this new partnership.

Using a new technology such as Google Wallet shows that The Container Store is innovative and definitely becoming a conscious leader in the mobile space.

?People want to do business with people they trust,? Mr. Tindell said. 

Final Take