This is a guest post by Gunnar Lovelace, Co-CEO of Thrive Market.
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods validates our core investment in developing a socially conscious business that speaks directly to the needs of the conscious consumer who wants low prices and to support products and brands that represent their values. This acquisition comes as part of a larger shift in consumer dynamics fueled partially by increasing political dysfunction, as consumers exercise their collective power by voting with their dollars.
In light of this shift, we at Thrive Market see the emergence of Millennial conscious consumers as a mindset and not merely an age group. Millennials rightly want to have their cake and eat it too — they want price and convenience, but also deeply value authenticity, transparency and true sustainability.
Thrive Market never set out to out-Amazon Amazon; they’re the everything store. But being the everything store makes it nearly impossible for Amazon to earn the trust of the conscious consumer – a concern I’ve seen voiced by many in the wake of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. Thrive Market is a socially conscious platform offering a highly curated catalog of formerly premium products for less, backed by an authentic social mission having real impact on issues related to how we produce and consume food. We also want to have our cake and eat it too.
Our mission at Thrive Market is to democratize access to healthy food, as it always seemed crazy to us that heavily processed, chemically laden foods were less expensive than their healthy alternatives. In fewer than three years, Thrive Market has become the largest exclusively non-GMO retailer in the US, selling the world’s best organic and non-GMO groceries at the same price or less than their conventional equivalents for the first time in history. We recognize that 85 percent of Americans want to shop organic, but have been unable to do so previously due to price or local availability. With continued investment by retailers like Amazon and Thrive Market, more consumers will be empowered to make the shift to healthy, sustainably produced groceries through affordable pricing and nationwide delivery.
This consumer shift is critically important given the systemic ecological and environmental effects of industrialized agriculture. Recent studies by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have shown that we only have 60 harvests left, as industrialized farming practices are destroying our topsoil at an accelerated rate. Plus, healthy topsoil is one of our greatest carbon sequestration tools to reverse climate change. A complete shift to organic farming could capture 100 percent of all carbon currently emitted globally, as reported by Rodale Institute. Amazon’s acquisition will brings billions of dollars into the organic food movement and in turn strengthens organic supply chains.
Further, these rapid macro changes in the market represent an existential threat for any retailer and CPG company that isn’t making direct to consumer investments in line with organic trends. The challenge for entrenched players is that it’s very hard to be nimble enough to meet consumers where they are, and is likely to be painful multi-billion dollar re-run of Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Ultimately, we think these trends are good for consumers and the planet, and businesses that know how to leverage highly fragmented media channels to authentically speak directly to consumers will be massively rewarded in the 21st century. There are only a couple retailers in the country like Amazon and Thrive Market that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into these competencies and this new development is a serious wakeup call to any retailer or CPG that underestimates the massive shift in consumer behavior.
Read Food+Tech Connect’s full coverage of the Whole Foods acquisition here.
Gunnar Lovelace is a serial entrepreneur in nonprofits, technology, fashion and real estate. Most recently he is the founder and Co-CEO of Thrive Market, an online wholesale buying club on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for every American family. Thrive Market currently offers the 4,000 most popular natural and organic products in the world at 25-50% off retail, shipped anywhere in the U.S. for free. For every paid member on the site, the company also sponsors a free membership for a low-income family. Previously he co-founded Love Heals – a conscious jewelry company that has funded the planting of over 1,500,000 trees and sponsored of over 50,000 malnourished children. Prior to Love Heals, Gunnar started two technology companies in Los Angeles in software education and natural language processing, both of which were sold. In addition to his for-profit companies, Gunnar has started two non-profits in education and environmental training.