- Whole Foods was the top spender in grocery advertising in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2019, according to data emailed to Grocery dive from consulting firm Kantar.
- Before Amazon bought it, Whole Foods ranked 10th in ad spending. It has trended upward since the acquisition, spending roughly $18 million on advertisements in Q2 this year compared with about $4.3 million in Q2 2016.
- Kroger was the second most active grocery advertiser with $15 million in ad spending, and Publix ranked third with $10.3 million. Walmart spent $8.6 million.
Whole Foods has far fewer stores than Kroger or Walmart, so its Q2 ad spending shows just how serious parent company Amazon is about staking its claim in the grocery sector, despite struggles to boost the business so far.
Whole Foods has released multiple ad campaigns with Amazon since the acquisition. According to Media Radar, the chain invests in premium ad units on digital, print and national TV platforms. It has advertised on over 250 media properties in the last year alone. Whole Foods' ads have focused on promoting the store's new price cuts along with its core departments like produce and fresh meat.
Humor is part of Whole Foods' strategy, as showcased by a video ad showing a customer shoveling asparagus into his cart, having misinterpreted his partner's request for a "bunch" of the popular vegetable. Another ad features a father telling his daughter a joke about pasta that falls flat.
Advertising seems to be paying off with Whole Foods' core contingent of shoppers. The natural foods retailer saw a 16.5% increase in foot traffic during the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2018, which was attributed to the incentives that Amazon Prime members receive in-store, but could also indicate successful advertising reach.
With shoppers turning to both print and digital promotions to plan their spending, retailers need advertising strategies that will span media types and capture maximum attention. Kroger, which had the second highest ad spend in Q2, recently hired its first official agency of record to refresh its brand identity.
Publix, the third biggest spender for advertising in Q2, has a long history of sentimental TV commercials. Walmart's ad spending isn't particularly high given its massive physical presence, though it has been dedicating much of its ad dollars to promoting grocery pickup in recent months.