The Whole Foods mission statement is a great example of a company that strives to set itself apart with aspirational yet attainable goals which prioritize making a difference over making a profit.
The multi-national food retailer outlines its mission as follows:
“Our purpose is to nourish people and the planet. We’re a purpose-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers.”
Like all good mission statements, it’s simple and to the point, yet it’s also powerful, emotive, and really sends the message that this is a company that is incredibly passionate about what they do and its impact on the world around them.
Below, we’ll analyze this ambitious mission and outline their statement about the Whole Foods brand.
|Founded:||September 20, 1980|
|Market cap:||$13.45B (as of August 2021)|
Whole Foods Mission Statement – In-Depth Analysis
Since they first launched their first health food store at the dawn of the 1980s, Whole Foods have always been known for providing customers with natural, organic, and broad nutritional food that is good for people rather than the kind of processed goods you’d find in most other grocery stores.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the brand’s mission statement would reflect this approach to retail success, focussing on goals that set them apart from the Walmarts, Krogers, and Trader Joes of the world by striving to do good in the world.
How Whole Foods aims to achieve this goal can be seen in three distinct parts of its mission statement.
“Our purpose is to…” / We are a purpose-driven company…”
The fact that the word “purpose” is mentioned twice in its 23-word statement is no accident, nor is it down to lazy writing or a lack of imagination.
It’s there because the purpose is essential to Whole Foods’ entire existence and how they operate.
If you look up the word “purpose” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it doesn’t just mean the reason that something exists or is done; it can also be used to refer to a sense of determination and personal resolve.
Here, Whole Foods are using “purpose” in both senses of the word.
Their reason for being clear achieves the main objective of any mission statement, which is to outline what a company does. However, used in this context, it’s clear that Whole Foods are sending the message that this reason for being is what truly drives them in all senses of the word.
It’s what drives their team members to get out of bed in the morning and go to work and what drives the whole company forward.
Why is this important?
It denotes that all-important sense of passion and the idea that the company genuinely cares about what they’re doing, something which appeals to socially conscious consumers looking to shop with brands who care about more than the bottom line.
“…to nourish people and the planet.”
One of the goals of a good mission statement is to provide a very clear message about what a company does and who they do it for.
With this part of their mission statement, Whole Foods quickly address both in just six simple words.
Their purpose is to nourish, another word that takes on a double meaning in this context.
It’s a word that conjures forth images of wellness and health, making it the perfect word for a health food retailer to explain what they do. They don’t just sell healthy food, they don’t even define their purpose as “feeding people,” but rather nourish them.
This means not just selling high-quality foods but also providing a positive environment for their team members to work and being conscious about the impact their work has on the farmers and other suppliers they work with, as well as the wider communities surrounding their stores.
This last point is where the second meaning of the word “nourish” comes into play.
Notice that Whole Foods talk about nourishing both people and the planet. In other words, their purpose isn’t just to sell food, it’s to take an active stance on protecting the environment, something which is well-reflected in their commitment to environmental stewardship , responsible sourcing , and other eco-friendly initiatives.
“…aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers.”
The third and final part of Whole Foods’ mission statement has more in common with a message that can be seen in the mission of everyone from fast food specialists Chipotle to sportswear brand Adidas :
Establishing themselves as industry leaders.
The company isn’t willing to simply maintain high standards; they aim to set those standards, standards which others in their industry will ultimately aspire towards.
This is where we see the brand acknowledging that while they’re driven by a purpose that is far greater than their day-to-day operations, they’re still very much a business, one determined to be at the very top of their industry .
Whole Foods Vision Statement
“Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.”
Whole Foods’ vision statement is summed up by their company motto a motto that perfectly, their mission statement’s key aspects focus on food, people, and the planet.
The company expands on this by saying:
“Our motto – ‘Whole Foods, Whole People and Whole Planet’ – emphasizes that our vision reaches far beyond just being a food retailer. Our success in fulfilling our vision is measured by customer satisfaction, team member excellence and happiness, return on capital investment, improvement in the state of the environment and local and larger community support.”
What’s here is that while the brand interesting explicitly states everything we’ve just said about them being driven by a greater purpose, terms like “customer satisfaction” and “return on capital investment” are more in keeping with the kind of things you’d expect to hear from any for-profit enterprise.
This is in no way a bad thing. On the contrary, it shows a company which, despite lofty, planet-saving ambition is still very much grounded in their core operation and every bit committed to running a successful commercial venture as they are to making a difference.
Whole Foods Values
Whole Foods lists their core values as:
- We sell the highest quality natural and organic foods
- We satisfy and delight our customers
- We promote team member growth and happiness
- We practice win-win partnerships with our suppliers
- We create profits and prosperity
- We Care About our Community and the Environment.
Looking back over everything we’ve discussed so far, it’s obvious to see how these core values are reflected throughout their mission statement, vision statement, and entire company ethos.
If there’s anything new businesses can learn from this, it’s that there’s a lot to be said for thinking about your values – first, before diving into mission and vision statements.
That way, when you know what’s truly important to you, you’ll be in a much better position to develop a mission which guides and directs you towards achieving it.
If you’ve read this far, you’ll no doubt note that there’s a lot to think about when it comes to analyzing Whole Foods’ mission statement, but if there’s any three major points to take away from this, it would definitely be the following:
- Define your values first – The company’s core values serves as the foundation of their mission and values statement. When you know what truly matters, it’s easier to create a mission to achieve it.
- Passion can help customers align with their brand – Whole Foods’ strong sense of purpose shows a passion for doing good in the world above and beyond simply selling food. Socially and environmentally conscious consumers may see this as aligning with their own personal values, leading to long-term loyalty.
- Going above and beyond doesn’t mean neglecting business objectives – At first glance, Whole Foods’ mission statement makes it seem as if doing good for the planet, but dive a little deeper into their vision statement and you’ll see a brand that is still committed to running a profitable commercial enterprise, meaning it is possible to do both.
Other Businesses with Similar Values
Whole Foods is far from the only brand concerned about making a positive impact on Planet Earth.
The following companies also share similar values.
- Chipotle – Chipotle’s simple yet effective mission statement of “food with integrity” reveals another company with lofty ambition of doing their bit for the environment.
- Ben & Jerry’s – Ben & Jerry’s three-pronged mission statement is another good example of a company who understands that profitability and investing in social and environmental causes don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts.
- Apple – Apple may be only non-food brand listed here, but their commitment to sustainability, partnerships, and combining profitability with corporate social responsibility are similar to Whole Foods’ core values.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How does the Whole Foods Motto Apply to Whole Foods?
Answer: The “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” motto adopted by Whole Foods applies to their whole operation, reflecting their mission to do more than just sell healthy food, but to make a genuine positive impact on customers, employees, and the environment.
Question: What is the Whole Foods 5×5 Rule?
Answer: The Whole Foods 5×5 rule says that employees should greet customers within 5 seconds of those customers reaching within 5 feet of them.
It’s a rule which helps to promote good customer service and makes shoppers feel valued.
Question: What is Whole Foods’ Value Proposition?
Answer: The Whole Foods value proposition is to go above and beyond merely selling healthy, organic food and using their position as a market leader to positively impact the planet as a whole.
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