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Sarah Halzack

Amazon Can't Just Preach to the Whole Foods Choir

The two already share customers; now they have to attract new ones.
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Photographer: DANIEL ACKER

Amazon.com Inc. is wasting no time in its efforts to turn itself into a grocery heavyweight. On the day its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. closed, Amazon slashed prices at the chain by as much as 43 percent on key items, a signal it wants to compete hard for value-conscious consumers.  

But price cuts alone won't make Amazon realize its grocery ambitions -- it needs to find other ways to steal market share. To gauge its chances of doing so, it helps to know more about Whole Foods' existing customer base. As it turns out, Whole Foods shoppers are more likely than U.S. consumers overall to be Amazon devotees. And this presents Amazon with some clear opportunities -- and a less-obvious challenge.