But now, competition has caught up to Whole Foods, as Kroger pushes their own in-house organic store brand and discount rivals like ALDI and LIDL expand at the low end. In response, activist investors are pushing Whole Foods start behaving more like a normal grocery store:
Jana [activist investor] ... wants Whole Foods to more quickly adopt standard grocery-industry practices it long had eschewed: loyalty cards that would allow it to target shoppers with coupons based on their buying habits; centralizing product purchasing to improve efficiency; and advertising sales and discounts.
Whether these changes cause Whole Foods to lose its foodie cachet (where else can you buy organic tofu tikka masala from a social justice warrior with a neck tattoo?) will determine its long run viability.
BOTTOM LINE: it is not the strongest who survive, but those willing to adapt.