Whole Foods Market

It's the last semester of our senior year of college, and what started out as an everyday assignment in our Professional Design Studio class, turned into a lot more. We were introduced to this organization operating out of England, that hosts a variety of professional and student competitions, however the winning solutions are for actual companies. Our class was assigned the Whole Foods  Market brief.

  • Back Story

    Whole Foods Market® is the world’s leading natural and organic grocery store. With almost 400 stores in 4 countries, their customers shop with them because they want the highest quality food that is sourced responsibly and ethically, and they want healthy choices. All food in the stores must meet our strict Quality Standards, which prohibit artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Each department in our store also has various standards for sourcing and ingredients.
    Whole Foods Market has several ratings initiatives to give our customers more information about our products and where they come from. These systems are all separate from each other and rate products on different criteria: animal welfare for meat, sustainability for seafood, ecology and working conditions for produce, and so on.

    It is their constant goal to provide our customers with the information they need to make the best food choices possible for the planet and their health. As a result, their stores are an information-rich environment, which can sometimes overwhelm shoppers. Whole Foods Market has several ratings initiatives to give their customers more information about the products and where they come from. These systems are all separate from each other and rate products on different criteria: animal welfare for meat, sustainability for seafood, ecology and working conditions for produce, and so on. While each of these rating scales provides great information about our products to customers, it can be overwhelming and confusing, especially considering the hectic, fast-paced store environment in which they live.

    The challenge is to reimagine our ratings systems and create a more digestible way of presenting this information.

  • Research

    During our research, we went to several different Whole Foods, and observed the visual environment. One thing we noticed was that the rating system was not placed in plain view. Those of us that are very tall, are always looking up so that we don't hit our heads on anything, so we noticed the signage that would either hang from the ceiling or that would be placed on the walls, above the shelves. Those that are shorter, noticed rating system ephemera below product displays. There were also a few labels that read "good" or "best," but they were placed next to the price tags, giving us little information. One final problem that we noticed, was that there was a rating system for beef/chicken/pork, another system for seafood, another for produce, another for cleaning, and so on.

  • Design

    What we ended up doing was completely redesigning the imagery for the entire rating system, taking an infographic approach to minimize reading time and maximize understanding, create an Icon-based rating system that can explain itself in under 10 seconds, coupled with this is informative in-store imagery that is quickly and easily recognizable, distinguishable, and digestible on a scale of "good to best".

Client: YCN, Whole Foods Market
Industry: Design, Food
Scope: Animation, Information Architecture, Packaging, Signage
Year: 2015
Credits: Carissa Pray, Phil Iacona