How Whole Foods Is Brainwashing You
Grocer 'primes' you into spending more from the instant you walk in
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2011 8:14 AM CDT
A sign is posted in front of a Whole Foods store in San Rafael, California.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – You may have thought it was gettin' real in the Whole Foods parking lot, but just wait until you get inside, where the supermarket giant bombards you with manipulation that "primes" you to spend. From the fresh-cut flowers at the entrance suggesting freshness is everywhere, "without a shadow of doubt, Whole Foods leads the pack in consumer priming," writes Martin Lindstrom at Fast Company. Lindstrom, author of a book called Brandwashed, runs down a list of ways:

  • Prices scrawled in chalk on slate boards: While suggestive that the farmer was in this morning and that prices might change like a farmers' market, in reality, "the produce was flown in days ago, its price set at the Whole Foods corporate headquarters." Even the "chalk" signs were mass-produced.
  • Ice, ice, everywhere: Ever notice the hummus on ice? Rather than functional, ice is a "symbolic"—a signal of "freshness and purity."
  • Stacks of produce-filled cardboard boxes: Here, Whole Foods is invoking that old-timey feeling. In reality, those boxes are "one humongous cardboard box with fissures cut carefully down the side that faces consumers (most likely by some industrial machinery at a factory in China)."
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