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Bloomberg reports that Whole Foods plans to test a new loyalty program - its first - at its Princeton, NJ. store, and then expand the test to Philadelphia. The goal, the company said, is to have a national loyalty/rewards program by the end of 2015.

According to the story, Whole Foods will offer a rewards card and mobile application downloaded from the Apple iTunes store, which will allow customers "to earn points that can be redeemed for discounts and store experiences, such as cooking classes … the trial period will last about six to eight months."

Whole Foods has been under price pressures of late, as mainstream grocers such as Kroger and Walmart grow their organic businesses, and value-driven organic chains such as Sprouts Farmers Markets gain traction and expand their national footprint. The new loyalty program is designed to be one way of addressing the company's "Whole Paycheck" image.
KC's View:
The way the program is described makes it sound suspiciously like the program offered by Starbucks … and that's a good thing. I use my Starbucks app all the time, more than any other program of its kind, and the freebies that I earn blunt to some extent the price of a venti skim latte.

If Whole Foods is not too late with this, and it can model the Starbucks success story, it will work out to be a very smart move.