Wild About Wild Oats? Ailing Retailer Extends Reach the Wrong Way

In an effort to increase sagging profits, Wild Oats announced its intention to become a strong national brand with distribution in major retail grocery chains through the nation. While touted as an innovative approach, might this just be the desperate moves of a company that realizes Whole Foods has won the war and it is time to move to another battlefield? Put another way, have the Generals at Oats decided, “well if they won’t shop at our stores, lets put our private label in Stop & Shop and make money there.”

NBN wonders what the long term implications for a chain whose new super stores in Kentucky and Omaha were reported to us as “empty and kind of sad” in becoming a new national brand. Of course, the better question is, how does this play to the folks at Krogers?

While Peapod Chicago sales of Wild Oats Private Label products were reported brisk, this likley has little to with with any cache associated with Wild Oats. Peapod carried relatively few natural and organic products prior to the introduction of the Oats line.

A browse through the Peapod site showed Wild Oats products were substantially cheaper than every other competing natural and organic brand. Wild Oats organic milk half gallons were $1.50 less than Horizon. Similarly, Oats organic OJ beat Horizon by 90 cents and Oats organic applesauce came in 60 cents less than Santa Cruz Organic.

Good deal yes, but NBN isnt sure if the way to promote brand identity for a supermarket is to become the favored product of the price saavy natural consumers shopping on the web. Time will tell.

Meanwhile NBN wants to know if Whole Foods Chicago reported any decrease in sales after Peapod picked up Oats private label products.

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