Wild Oats recent decision to add conventional food, household and OTC items to its product mix is a little bit like the girl who put her thumb in the dike. It always feels good to be doing something but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem at hand.
While we understand that the Oats insiders rightly believe felt that they were losing sales to conventional stores that also happened to sell natural foods, do they think that the only reason folks were leaving the aisles empty and too many Wild Oats stores was the lack of Cheerios and Aspirin?
We don’t believe this move will attract more customers. Furthermore, we also wonder whether hard-core natural consumers will feel like their mother left them nursing from a formula bottle and start shopping for nourishment elsewhere. After all, Wild Oats has always been the leader in creating principle based buying decisions.
NBN believes that this move, like their partnership with Peapod in Chicago and their decision to create lifestyle boutiques in Stop & Shop stores, has more to do with positioning the chain for a sale than with revitalizing sales.
In other words, we don’t expect great results from these moves, but believe the players at Oats hope that a purchase of the ailing retailer will seem more enticing, by adding new twists to an old formula.