A match made in marketing heaven

Toms Shoes + Whole Foods = Marketing Heaven

Recently, I was in Winston Salem and witnessed the marketing arranged marriage between TOMS and Whole Foods.  I have to admit these two are perfect for each other.  Well done Brad Otts, the cupid in this love story.  Here is a link about the matrimony between TOMS & Whole Foods.

When I was in college Dr. Hanson talked a lot about the Marketing Mix and its Four Ps; Price, Promotion, Place, and Product.  When two brands share these ingredients, a good partnership will result.  Let’s take a look:


This is how much the customer pays for the product. TOMS and Whole Foods do not sell average products. They are not selling toothpicks. When you are buying toothpicks you go for cheap.

Brand is less important. All you want to do is get the spinach out of your teeth so the person next to you doesn’t run away. They are selling something with similar perceived value and a comparative price. Customers that pay for Whole Foods groceries will also pay for TOMS shoes.

Takeaway: Do you price your product or service to match the perceived value of your audience?  Do you bottom feed on price?  Only try to be the cheapest if it makes sense.  Sell your goods at a fair price that satisfies your tribe.


These brands have parallel paths in this part of the mix.  Their Advertising, PR, Word-of-Mouth, Point-of-Sale, and New Media channels reach the same target.  Their promotion segments a specific person in mind. To me promotion is best done by telling a story.  TOMS’ and Whole Foods’ stories speak to the same audience.

Takeaway: Identify your ideal customers.  Be relevant to their needs and tell the stories they want to be characters in.


Location is still important.  Be where you are found.  TOMS’ ideal prospects shop at Whole Foods and Whole Foods’ ideal prospects wear Toms shoes.

Takeaway: In the digital landscape place is equally important.  Find where your customers and prospects are by using twitter search, blogs, google, facebook, youtube, etc.


Most importantly the products are compatible.  You won’t find Nikes in Whole Foods or TOMS in Walmart.  This relationship works because the products have the same suit. It is hard to build continuity with spades and diamonds. The suits don’t match. TOMS’ and Whole Foods’ customers are socially conscience, eco-friendly, and “Organic.”  They are both hearts.  They influence and are influenced by the same culture (check out Jackie Adkins regarding the influence of culture).

Takeaway: Product relationships have to be able to leverage the same ecosystems.  You wouldn’t pair McDonald’s with Dom Pérignon.  You would pair Starbucks and Barnes & Noble.  Leverage will make your marketing invisible.

These Ps aren’t the only ones. There are also some Cs and Ss and Rs. I do hope you think about what you are trying to accomplish with developing your brand and growing your business. Whole Foods and Toms have built a mutually beneficial relationship that is win-win for both companies. Seek those partnerships where you can be advocates for each other. Your customers are looking for it.

What say you?


Press ESC to close.