The Personalization Imperative for Grocery Brands: Amazon and Whole Foods Market


Amazon rocked the grocery world with its announced purchase of Whole Foods Market, sending Whole Foods Market’s and Amazon’s stocks up while other grocery brands’ stocks lowered in response.

The implications of Amazon’s applauded purchase have been the focus of endless speculation recently, but one thing that’s certain today is grocery brands that continue to focus on their customers and provide great experiences have a strong competitive foundation to stand on.

For those in the grocery space, here are three things to keep in mind as you decide how to respond to this groundbreaking development in the industry.

Whole Foods Market and Amazon bring forward a new era of grocery marketing
“Grocers have also been relatively untouched by the many customer service features we’ve come to associate with online shopping — for instance … recommendations.” The New York Times, 2017

The traditional grocery business is changing dramatically, especially when it comes to how consumers shop. It’s never been more challenging for grocery brands and in order to compete, they must deliver personalized one-to-one experiences across channels — digitally and in-store — tied to both content and products.

Amazon is known for innovation and customer centricity, but as many grocery brands have known for years, it’s challenging to create a seamless, engaging digital experience that helps achieve goals like dollars spent per visit and increased share of grocery store visits.

However, traditional grocers that recognize the opportunity to lean into the rising demand for relevant, impactful digital experiences will have a leg up on their competition and build defensibility from Amazon’s technological dominance.

Content marketing inspires action for grocers
A low-hanging fruit opportunity for grocery brands is leveraging helpful, informational content marketing as a way to build engagement and foster action from consumers.

Many grocers like H-E-B have built up a large repository of recipes and cooking tips blogs to inspire consumers to experiment with new dishes and bring healthy meals into their homes. The central idea is that when consumers read content about new recipes to try or cooking tips to use, they’re more likely to visit the grocery brand’s store that inspired them.

The idea became reality for one OneSpot grocery client as they learned that visitors who consumed three or more recipe or blog articles in their online session were three times more likely to click the “Find a Store” and “View Weekly Ad” buttons, indicating intent to shop at that grocer’s nearest location.

Instead of letting the content you have go dormant on your website, take a page out of H-E-B’s playbook and send recipes to your email newsletter subscribers. You’ll hopefully give them more reasons to come to the store and you’ll get more from your investment in content if it’s getting used regularly.

Personalization is imperative for grocery content marketing
It’s never been more important to deliver individually relevant digital experiences to customers than today. McKinsey & Company reported that 35% of all purchases on are the result of algorithmically generated, hyper-personalized recommendations, giving Amazon’s likely purchase of Whole Foods Market new meaning as they start working together.

What’s more is the majority of consumers (55%) say that Amazon is the best at delivering personalized digital experiences, beating both Google (39%) and Facebook (38%) by wide margins.

Even if leading grocery brands recognize that practices like localizing offers in weekly circulars don’t go far enough for today’s consumer, what can they do to offer their own individually relevant experiences?

The good news is that similar technologies that Amazon uses, such as machine learning-based personalization, are available to grocers today. Take H-E-B’s example again. Not only are they using recipes in emails to engage their consumers, but they’re also working with us at OneSpot to personalize the placement of those recipes in email newsletters for every individual list subscriber, creating a seamlessly relevant experience that rival’s Amazon’s own personalized recommendations.

Whether you’re already using content marketing today or just figuring out how it can help your grocery brand achieve its goals, we can help. Reach out today for a consultation with our grocery content marketing experts.


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