Inside Erewhon Where the Food is Healthy and Crazy Expensive But Shoppers Love it


If you think Whole Foods is expensive…how about four dollars for an avocado?  Or $24 for Macadamia nut cheese?

You won’t find as many of these items at Whole Foods today as Amazon continues to cut prices and offer deals to its Prime members.  Gone are the days when people referred to Whole Foods as “Whole Paycheck.”  Now there’s a new type of competition in Southern California…a natural foods grocery called Erewhon that’s taking an entirely different approach…and it seems to be working.

It’s working, that is, for celebrities (who love to shop there), for millennials and anyone else who can afford the prices…along with the devotees who just can’t live without their healthy daily green concoctions, superfoods like Maca and Camu Camu or deliciously raw Kale Pesto Pasta. Who says people won’t pay high prices for accessibility to such healthy, hard-to-find natural foods?  With successful stores in Santa Monica, Fairfax, Venice, Calabasas and Pacific Palisades, look for two more locations to open soon in Silver Lake and Studio City.   Business certainly seems to be booming.

Now, what do all these locations have in common?  Well, for starters, they’re in areas where the rich and famous live along with millennials who are looking for alternatives to Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Gelsons.  Erewhon has taken its promise, message and unique product line to the affluent and certainly isn’t considering changing its model.  Not when such a dedicated group of followers is willing and able to pay whatever they ask.  This type of target marketing works…and its surprising that more retailers don’t use or understand it.

And the rest of the story?    Erewhon was founded in 1966 by two Japanese immigrants, Aveline and Michio Kushi who sold natural and macrobiotic foods from a small shop in Boston. Within a few years they began importing foods from Japan and it wasn’t long before it became the first natural foods wholesale and distribution company in the United States.  Despite many changes over the years the values and ideals of the original founders remain the same:

“We offer the highest quality foods and products possible, so that our customers can lead the best possible lives.  We support local organic farmers and growers; we partner with suppliers who share our concerns and values; we build community by listening and learning together.  We recycle, reuse and minimize waste as much as possible and act in ways that protect the resources of our planet.  We believe that transparency from farm to table is crucial in supplying the highest quality products. We believe that to make the world a better place, we must be our best selves. And we are building a team of passionate, committed individuals who each play a vital role in making Erewhon a special place and who are focused on creating a remarkable experience for our customers.”

Selling groceries successfully today is a complicated and competitive business, yet Erewhon seems to have found their way out of the rat race. Their model works – healthy, hard to find and only “the best of the best” food products aimed at those who can afford them along with great service.  Marketing to the affluent is big business and they know it.  Their stores may not be for everyone… but aren’t you just a little bit curious?  Why not stop in and take a look?  You just never know what delicacy you might find that you simply cannot live without…no matter what the price.

Oh…and about the name Erewhon?  It’s derived from the 1872 novel “Erewhon” by Samuel Butler.  Erewhon is an anagram of “nowhere” and in the novel is about a utopia where all individuals are responsible for their own health.

Grocer is on a natural growth path   Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2016   Fear and Loathing at Erewhon, the High-Margin Grocery Store That Might Just Take Over the World

スーパーのホールフーズ(Whole Foods)が高いとお感じの方、アボカド1個が4ドルと聞いてどう思いますか? マカデミアナッツ・チーズが24ドルというのはいかがでしょうか?



これらのロケーションには、共通点があります。富裕層や有名人が住むエリアとして知られていて、ミレニアル世代の住民も多く、ホールフーズやトレーダー・ジョーズ(Trader Joe’s)、ゲルソンズ(Gelson’s)といった高級志向のスーパーの代わりを求めている人たちがいることです。エレウォンは、明らかに富裕層をターゲットにしていて、その事業モデルを変える気はまったくありません。これだけのファン層を確立して、「言い値」を払ってくれるフォロワーがいるのですから、その必要はないはずです。この種のターゲット・マーケティングは非常に有効です。もっと多くの小売店が追随しないのが不思議なぐらいです。



今の時代、食料品販売業というのは複雑かつ競争の激しいビジネスです。が、エレウォンは、報われない競争から脱出する方法を見つけたと思われます。ほかではあまり見つからない最高品質のヘルシーな食品を、それだけの値段が払える人のために、すばらしいサービスと共に提供するというのは、成功する事業モデルです。富裕層狙いの商売が大きなビジネスになることを、この店は知っています。大衆向けでないかもしれませんが、それでも好奇心をそそられませんか? 一度は店内を見てみたいと思いませんか? 実際、行ってみれば、とても珍しいものを発見して「病みつき」になり、いくら払おうともこれなしでは生きられないと思うようになることだって、あるかもしれません。


Grocer is on a natural growth path」、Los Angeles Times、2016年1月31日、「Fear and Loathing at Erewhon, the High-Margin Grocery Store That Might Just Take Over the World」

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