To study Whole Foods cross-visitation from grocery store locations in the US, we used Unacast Now and Tableau to build an interactive map detailing the Top 10 most cross-visited brands by local, state and national figures. The data presented here was gathered between November 15 2020 and June 30, 2021.
Whole Foods is a ubiquitous grocer providing healthy food, organic food and prepared food options that welcomes visitors at upwards of 500 retail stores scattered across most of the contiguous United States. Being in the premium grocer category, Whole Foods cross-visitation data and foot traffic can tell us much about how Whole Foods customers at each location interact with other local brands -- valuable information in the retail site selection and competitive analysis use cases, in particular. The insights gleaned here also point to cross-marketing opportunities for several brands.
Below, you’ll find a few observations we made using the interactive map. You can select to view the map at the national, state or local level, and zoom-in on individual stores. As you hover over each area, you’ll see a list of Whole Foods Top 10 most cross-visited brands. Some of the names are exactly what you may expect. Others are a bit of a head scratcher, at least until we drill down into the data a bit more. Drop your email just below if you’d like to get the Tableau workbook for yourself (it’s free).
The Top 10 most cross-visited brands make sense
Whole Foods' Top 10 most cross-visited retail brands in the US are, in order: Target, Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods (more on that below), Starbucks, Primo Water, The Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, CVS and Publix. It’s reasonable to ask why one of the most commonly cross-visited locations is another Whole Foods; the answer is simple consumer grocery shopping behavior.
Perhaps one store is closer to work, and another closer to home. Perhaps one location has items the other does not. Brand-loyal consumers will make a little trip to get what they want. By the same token, it’s not surprising to see Trader Joes - a direct competitor of Whole Foods - as another of the most cross-visited brands nationally. Does a shopper restrict one's self to only one grocer brand, or do we go one place for the meat, another for the veggies, or another for the wine selection? Traffic sources data says that we do.
The remaining most cross-visited brands are mostly big box retailers peppered with a pharmacy, a water retailer that piggybacks on other major retailers, and a premium coffee shop with a heavy presence throughout Whole Foods key markets. So, the topline findings make sense at first blush. Now let’s zero-in on some regional markets and see how the picture adjusts.
The Great Lakes, NYC, San Antonio, and Bellingham, WA: Regional variants kick-in
Looking at the Great Lakes region - we’ll pick Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio as representatives - we can immediately see a shift away to more regionalized brands, or at least those with a customer base more aligned to local demographics. Meijer joins Whole Foods list of Top 10 most cross-visited brands for grocery shoppers in each of these three states, peaking at #1 in Michigan. Kroger and Chick-Fil-A also join the party in two out of the three markets. Starbucks, Costco, Walmart and Target remain highly-ranked.
In the area of New York City and New Jersey, grocery competitor ShopRite, with better than 320 stores across six states, leaps into the #1 or #2 most cross-visited brands depending on the specific location. Stop & Shop and specialty competitor Juice Press also break into the Top 10 in this MSA, bumping out Trader Joe and others. One outlier in the area is Kimco Realty. No, that’s not a local real estate office, it’s a real estate investment trust, or REIT, that invests in shopping centers. So what we’re seeing there is really cross-visits to a mall, rather than a specific brand.
San Antonio is a bit of a microcosm for Whole Foods cross-visitation, even in Texas where there is already significant state-level variance from the national trend. The #1 most cross-visited brand in both San Antonio and the state of Texas is local Whole Foods’ competitor, H-E-B grocery, a privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, with more than 340 stores throughout Texas, as well as in northeast Mexico. Other retailers that make an appearance in the San Antonio Top 10 include CycleBar (fitness/gym), Nordstrom Rack, Lowe’s (rather than the usual suspect, Home Depot), and HoneyBaked Ham, which has more than 490 outlets across the US.
Bellingham, Washington lies 21 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border in between two major cities: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Seattle. While Costco, target and, of course, Starbucks, remain firmly among Whole Foods’ most cross-visited retail brands here, most of the rest of the Top 10 gets a shake-up. Fred Meyer, another grocer, is the #1 most cross-visited brand in the area, while Discount Tire, west coast real estate investor and property manager Merlone Geier Partners, and another coffee shop, Cruisin Coffee, join the Top 10 locally. Stunningly, Walmart drops out of the rankings here completely, despite having a store on a major route north of the city. Lowe’s again wins out here over Home Depot.
Unacast can help any retail brand use location data to measure foot traffic and cross-visitation, conduct competitive analysis, inform site selection and improve site performance. The data presented here is meant to provide topline indicators of what mobility data can tell us about cross-visitation in the grocery category. Want to know more firstname.lastname@example.org
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Visits dataset - The Unacast Visits dataset is a database of confirmed visits to known points of interest (POIs). The Visits data feed includes a timestamp, average lat-long of the venue, venue-ID, venue name, brand name, venue ID, city, state, zip-code, dwell time, SIC category, NAICS category and stock ticker. This dataset is a good fit for clients who prefer to work with location data that has been contextualized and thoroughly vetted on accuracy.
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Migration Patterns dataset - the Migration patterns dataset is a set of products for analyzing shifts in population. Currently, the package consists of two datasets:
Home-based Origin-Destination Flux (OD Flux) derives moves from changes in home location of a device and therefore is able to capture the origin and destination of each move. In order to assess that a move happened with certain confidence, an observation window of several weeks (currently 8 is required, which means that our insights are more certain, however, come with a delay of approximately half of the observation window (4 weeks).
Population Distribution Trends (PDT) is a metric that measures the proportion of devices in each state or county at a weekly snapshot. When a mass of people moves from one area to another, the proportion shifts accordingly. This metric is useful for analyzing the momentary situation, as it has no delay. Compared to OD Flux it doesn’t provide information about directionality of the moves or their permanency.
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