Publix is moving away from its organic brand GreenWise Market, a spokesperson for the grocer confirmed.
The Lakeland-based supermarket chain will transform all eight of its GreenWise Market locations into traditional Publix stores, spokesperson Hannah Herring confirmed in an email.
The reason? Shoppers prefer Publix but like certain features of GreenWise Market.
“Our customers’ shopping habits have reinforced that they enjoy the attributes of a Publix GreenWise Market location, but within their traditional Publix shopping setting,” Herring said.
The GreenWise stores, once transitioned, will look more like the newly-renovated Publix in South Tampa on Gandy Boulevard, which includes a Pours station, a bar where customers can order craft beer on tap and wine.
There’s no date for when the shift will begin. Each store will be assessed individually, Herring said.
Publix has eight GreenWise Market stores, including at Water Street in downtown Tampa which had a highly-anticipated opening in 2021. Other stores in Florida are in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Lakeland, Odessa, Tallahassee and Ponte Vedra.
Tapping into growing health and wellness shopping trend
Publix has been experimenting with the GreenWise brand since it launched the late 2000s, a time when organic and boutique grocery shopping became more popular.
For nearly a decade, Tampa’s Hyde Park had a GreenWise Market that looked like most Publix stores but featured pricier organic products. That store rebranded in 2019 as a regular Publix.
Then Publix began introducing smaller footprints for GreenWise Market, like the 26,000-square-foot store built in the Water Street development.
It’s about half the size of a regular Publix and similar in design to Lucky’s Market stores, a specialty grocer that went bankrupt in 2020.
GreenWise focused less on carrying many brands of staple items like toilet paper and more on fresh and prepared foods. Inside stores, there were stations where shoppers could make their own peanut butter or buy coffee beans by the pound.
“The GreenWise I’ve been in have so much made-to-order food that they began to operate more of a restaurant rather than a grocery store,” said Colliers executive vice president of retail services Tyler Peterson. “That’s a whole different world in itself.”
It was part of a growing trend of shoppers going to smaller grocery stores for convenience and accessibility, according to a report published earlier this year from commercial real estate firm JLL.
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GreenWise Market saw a spike in the number of shoppers each year compared to typical Publix stores in Florida, the report said. Consumers tend to stay in the specialty stores for longer periods.
Need for different strategy?
But Publix didn’t commit enough to the brand, said food industry analyst Phil Lempert.
“Everybody always pointed at Whole Foods and said Whole Foods can charge so much more,” Lempert said. “Every retailer wanted to do that. It’s not that easy.”
With only a handful of stores, Lempert explained Publix didn’t invest enough infrastructure to scale the GreenWise name and build its own customer base devoted to organic products.
“The question is do you include more of those products — as they have done — in the Publix store or do you want to segment your customers into GreenWise and Publix customers?” Lempert said. “And I don’t think GreenWise really attracted many new customers.”
Even though Publix is dropping the GreenWise Market name on stores, it will add features from the brand into the larger stores such as the Gandy Boulevard location. Peterson said shoppers already go to Publix for their everyday grocery needs and it doesn’t need to differentiate itself with a more upscale brand.
Lempert said Publix could build “store-within-a-store” concepts under the GreenWise name inside a normal supermarket showcasing healthy goods.
“It’s different when you’re a Kroger or an Albertsons where you have 10 or 15 different banners and you really run them,” Lempert said. “For Publix, Publix is the name.”