Share this:


Sure, a stack of 13,600,000 hundred-dollar bills. But we were thinking more in terms of a brand. One that’s green and worth $1.36 billion.

Want another hint? OK, over the past decade it was perennially #2 or #3 on our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index in their category, but this year it moved up to the #1 spot. Got it yet? The category is one where Whole Foods had been #1 for nearly a decade, until it was disclosed Whole Foods routinely overcharged customers on pre-packaged good and then tried to position themselves as the “victim’ of the plot, then imploded, and ended up ranked by their own customers as #5! Got it yet?

OK, we’ll tell you. It’s in the Natural Foods Category and the brand is The Fresh Market. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s the chain of stores founded by Ray and Beverly Berry in Greensboro, NC back in1982. They looked to position the chain as a “better” grocery store hearkening back to open European-style markets. They aimed to supply higher-margin “green,” natural, organic foods, with on-site butchers, and imported cheeses, well ahead of the curve customer values were taking as regards food markets. They were so good at anticipating and then meeting customer value expectations, and were so successful at it, they just agreed to be acquired by Apollo Global Management LLC for – you got it – $1.36 billion!

As brand engagement is always a leading-indicator of positive consumer behavior – and, one can reasonably presume, corporate acquisition desirability – here’s how the current group of natural food markets ranked according to their own customers:

  1. The Fresh Market
  2. Trader Joe’s
  3. Sprouts Farmers Market
  4. Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
  5. Whole Foods

Apollo Global has been on an acquisition tear in the retail brand arena, feeling this particular category has real growth potential, which, according to our current research, tracks with the reality that consumer values have shifted dramatically over the past decade as regards food generally, but specifically when it comes to what consumers have come to expect from grocery retailers.

And if retail or food vendor brands – be they markets, super and otherwise, or fast or fast-casual, diner or fine dining – wish to profit, they would benefit from adopting the following mantra, “Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.” Which turns out to be equally true about a brand’s bottom line.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Share this: