Backlash : Whole Foods Rep Takes Serious Dip

Whole Foods Buzz

As the Whole Foods Boycott grows on Facebook, brand perception is dropping

By Jennifer Van Grove / August 25, 2009

As the Whole Foods Boycott on Facebook continues to swell — the group now has over 27,000 members — we’re finding out that CEO John Mackey’s statements in The Wall Street Journal are affecting more than just angry Facebookers, but consumers in general.

According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, which tracks the daily consumer perception of brands, consumer opinion towards Whole Foods has been falling fast on the Web since the editorial appeared.

YouGov scores brands from 100 to -100, with zero being neutral, based on daily interviews from respondents, and they track the change in the score to show a rise or decline in overall brand perception.

Their buzz chart is a reflection of how buzz perception changes over time. They ask consumers, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?” Their results indicate that Whole Foods had a buzz score of 22.8 on August 12th, and that score fell to 13.6 by August 20th. That’s almost a 10 point drop in just over a week.

Whole Foods Rep

The reputation chart is scored in the same manner, but asks respondents, “Would you be proud or embarrassed to work for this brand?” According to their research, the reputation score is suffering even more. On August 12th Whole Foods had a 33.3 score, but by the 20th they were down to 20.3.

Can the results be trusted? Well, according to the firm, “YouGov’s BrandIndex interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1MM individuals. Margin of error is a very accurate +/- 2%.”

While we take no sides on the issue, it’s hard not to attribute at least some of the drop in consumer perception to the vocal Facebook group that has emerged in the aftermath of the CEO’s Wall Street Journal op-ed. Should YouGov’s research be as accurate as it claims to be, then Whole Foods definitely needs to be concerned about this social media backlash that’s negatively impacting consumer opinion.

Source / Mashable

For previous Rag Blog articles on Whole Foods and founder John Mackey, go here.

Thanks to David P. Hamilton / The Rag Blog

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6 Responses to Backlash : Whole Foods Rep Takes Serious Dip

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love the negative press – but actions speak louder than polls-boycott Whole Foods – the food may be whole, but Mackey’s heart isn’t

  2. FW says:

    Now that Whole Foods has come to Canada, we can participate in the boycott. His comments about Canadian healthcare were extremely offensive and wrong. See blog about it here:

    http://canadawomen.blogspot.com/2009/08/thinking-of-shopping-at-whole-foods.html

  3. lionmother says:

    Used to be a huge Whole Foods customer, but now haven’t set foot in the store since the CEO’s statement. I miss it, but have found alternatives in a local store. I hope that the boycott gets worse. I passed by our local Whole Foods tonight and there was a lot o ftraffic there. It will take time before it affects sales.

  4. Charlie Clements says:

    Two and half weeks Whole Foods free – the Face Book boycott page now has almost 32,000 “Friends”, none of whom think they will bring a $5 billion juggernaut to it’s knees. But, it’s interesting how these “boycotts” become habit. I have not been in an Exxon station since the Alaska spill. Don’t consciously avoid them, it’s just become habit. I miss WF, but my habit of buying there is fading – and I trust Mr. Mackey’s statements have had the same effect on tens of thousands of other former and prospective customers. I buy my “healthy stuff” elsewhere now.

  5. paul_h says:

    So much for free speech.

  6. FW says:

    Well, Paul, John Mackey’s speech is still free – we’re not paying him. Truthfully, I think the recession and the price of WF stuff has a lot more to do with WF’s decline than the boycott – people are looking for things they can afford and cutting back on things that are overpriced. For years the store has been known as Whole Paycheck…

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