Whole Foods plans stronger marketing effort.

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Whole Foods expects to announce a broad-based marketing strategy later this year, Walter Robb, co-CEO, told investors Wednesday.

With increased promotions and deeper price investments in select categories already underway, Whole Foods plans to broaden its marketing program to extend awareness of its pricing effort, Robb said.

“We’ve got something up our sleeves but nothing to announce yet. We want to get some pieces in place, and then we will launch a more broad-based marketing strategy — something we’ll talk about in the fourth quarter.”

Price investments have resulted in increased frequency and basket size among core customers, Robb noted. However, there’s been some erosion among more occasional shoppers who come in at different frequencies and for different amounts, he said, “though a comeback will happen.”

As part of its marketing effort, Whole Foods plans to expand its affinity program — already in place in Philadelphia — to Dallas during the summer, after which it will roll the personalized rewards program out nationally “now that we’ll have actionable customer data on a national scale,” John Mackey, co-CEO, said.

He said he is optimistic the first three 365 by Whole Foods Market locations the company will open over the next five months will be accretive to earnings, ”but we’ve got to get them up to speed.”

The company expects to have a clearer idea of results by November, Mackey explained. “We ‘re expecting them to have very good returns on invested capital and to be very profitable for us. But we have to open them up and see actual results,” he noted.

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