As reported in the New York Times (10.19.14), Whole Foods Market is fighting to maintain its sales growth as organic, high-quality food becomes increasingly available at more affordable markets. In light of this “food war” Steven Overman’s The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good is Great for Business becomes more relevant every day. Whole Foods paved the way for organic, sustainable, responsibly grown food to become available for public consumption, always with the secondary side effect of being expensive. However, as Overman notes, this trend has now become powerful as a mass market movement transcending its roots at upmarket stores and farmers’ markets. Companies such as Walmart, are now finding it both attractive and profitable to offer affordable, healthy food options with transparent information about where those foods come from.
Whole Foods has started its largest advertising and marketing campaign to win back customers and bring in new customers who were previously deterred by the high price tags: “…the ads suggest that value for money is as important as a bargain price if not more so, and that by shopping at Whole Foods consumers can be confident about where their food comes from and how it was grown, raised or made. As an announcer puts it in a commercial for Whole Foods beef, “To us, value is inseparable from values.” – New York Times
In his new book, Steven Overman warns about ignoring the Conscience Culture, as consumers are pressuring companies into becoming healthier and more socially responsible. The New York Times agrees: “The Whole Foods campaign is an example of a popular trend on Madison Avenue known by terms like conscious capitalism, purpose marketing, and pro-social marketing.”
Even McDonalds is launching its own campaign to reverse the image of their food as unhealthy and ecologically irresponsible. In order to compete and be relevant in this world today, companies have to take the popular groundswell of feeling about responsible capitalism into account, and Steven Overman’s The Conscience Economy is an essential guide.