Well, it's not new pricing, exactly, but Whole Foods had made a pretty major change to their cheese signage. At first it seemed tricky, like a marketing ploy, but after giving it more thought, we think that it's actually pretty genius — and moreover, a way to encourage the general public to buy more cheese.
Look closely. Rather than advertising the price per pound, signs now display the price per quarter-pound. Pretty deceptive, I thought.
But then I thought about it and I completely changed my tune. I like that they're making a conscious decision to encourage their customers to buy more cheese and not to be afraid of cheese prices. Seeing a price per pound of $32 is pretty discouraging. Might that price scare off the people who don't actually know that a pound of cheese is actually quite a LOT of cheese?
Displaying the quarter-pound price is not only saying that a quarter-pound is a reasonable amount to buy, it also cuts down on the math that's required of the customer! How quickly can you figure out how much a quarter-pound would cost of a $37/pound cheese?
Seeing prices of $6, $7, and $8 was pretty comforting. It reminded me that while nice cheese is expensive, a small wedge of it can still cost less than a bottle of wine, a six-pack, or a movie ticket.
So good for you, Whole Foods. Here's hoping that a new bevy of people will be encouraged to sidle up to the cheese counter and try something new.
Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and for some time she was a Cheesemonger and the Director of the Cheese Course at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City. She is currently an assistant chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
(Images: Nora Singley)