Wegmans Coming to NY

If you’ve ever shopped in a Wegmans the idea that the brand has developed a cult following should come as little surprise. So it is certainly expected that upon launching their new Brooklyn store, other rival brands like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods may be feeling the heat. 

We dug into the overall trends for all three and examined a few other locations that pit these brands against each other.

No Reason for Concern?

Wegmans has significantly fewer locations than Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and accordingly, has fewer visitors in terms of absolute numbers. 

Even from a trend perspective, Wegmans (blue) data is hardly ‘frightening’ with the company performing similarly to Whole Foods (red) and Trader Joe’s (green) in the period from September 2017 through September 2019. If anything, it is Trader Joe’s who has enjoyed the latest peak as the brand’s visits rose even when the two competitors saw September dips.

Local Dominance

Yet, digging into locations where all three brands have a site in the same area exemplifies the unique power of Wegmans. The first we analyzed sees a Whole Foods (red) and Wegmans (blue) in close proximity with a Trader Joe’s (green) a bit further out. In this location, Wegmans sees nearly double the monthly visits of Whole Foods and more than double of Trader Joe’s, even though the overlap with Whole Foods is nearly identical. In fact, Whole Foods even draws from a wider True Trade Area in this instance, but visitors fail to come close to the frequency that Wegmans visitors show.

What’s especially amazing is that these are not poor performers from the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s group of stores. The two rank in the 93rd and 82nd percentile respectively for all grocery stores in the US. Unfortunately, the Wegmans is so strong that this location sits in the 99th percentile of the same group. 

Taking another case where the Trader Joe’s sits closer to the Wegmans, while Whole Foods is further away demonstrates a potentially interesting difference. Wegmans, in this case, still dominates in terms of visits, but here has a huge trade area advantage over Whole Foods. This indicates that Wegmans has the ability to drive visits in multiple ways – whether high frequency from a tight trade area or lower frequency from a larger audience.

What Does It Mean for Brooklyn (and Beyond)?

The implications here are significant. 

Wegmans shows the ability to thrive as a hybrid that can serve as a core grocer that a customer visits with high frequency or as a ‘destination’ grocer where visits are less frequent but are driven either by a desire to buy in bulk or to purchase unique items. This is especially interesting in Brooklyn when considering rivals like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. The former is more a niche grocer that can actually benefit from proximity to other grocery chains, while the latter is more of a direct competitor on the frequency side.

Trader Joe’s may actually have the most to lose as the combination of regularity and interesting items provided by Wegmans may hurt their visits more. On the other hand, Whole Foods is going to need to focus on adapting to the Wegmans entrance by targeting audiences that are further afield – something it proved capable of doing in the first example.

But how will this actually play out in Brooklyn and in other locations? Visit Placer.ai to dig into the data and find out.

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