What Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Means For Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs

A bomb dropped in the retail space this morning. With Amazon's $13.7 Billion purchase of Whole Foods, a slowly expanding gulf between niche and mass market has finally become a gragantuan divide.

The news just dropped a few hours ago, and I'm still developing my thoughts. Completion of the sale is subject to approval by Whole Foods' shareholders, regulatory approvals, etc., but in the meantime, I have some quick commentary and analysis to share already, specifically regarding what this purchase means for Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs. Before I get to that, I want you to know that this is not bad news unless you are a grocer who is not prepared to hone your niche.

For Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs, this is good news. After all, handmade is the new American manufacturing. Having said that, there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind if you are to thrive in this swiftly changing economy.

Either Mass Market or Niche. There is No Middle.

The distinction between mass market and niche has been evolving for years, but this news puts a bow on it. To be successful in the Maker and Handmade Entrepreneurial space, you will need to choose mass market or niche for your brand.

You may have two brands, one in niche and one in mass market, but the chances that a single brand can thrive simultaneously in both are slim and getting slimmer.

Mass market or niche. Pick one.

Amazon Handmade Will Be Phased Out

Amazon Handmade has never done well because Amazon does not serve niche audiences well. I predict Amazon will either phase out or sell the assets of Amazon Handmade because the brand is designed essentially to mass market niche products, and Amazon does not do that well.

Amazon can make a lot more money on food than it can on handmade products. And it will.

Amazon does a great job of selling what everyone wants, and delivering it fast.

Books and Sharpie markers are like lettuce and salad dressing in that sense. Everyone wants and/or needs them, and Amazon delivers them. And now, it will deliver them faster and more efficiently.

Drill Down Into Your Toes To Capture Your Target Audience

Your products are secondary.

As long as they are good and safe, your products are ready to be sold.

It's your brand that matters, more than ever now. Your brand has to stand for something beyond the awesome products you offer. This is not new. Certain branding laws must be followed, and one of them is that you have to drill down deep and target your products to one person, and then sell them to her over and over again at different addresses.

It's not enough to have an awesome product. It's not enough to have awesome product photos and a great website.

All of that is important, but it's not enough. You must weave a narrative that supports your brand, and that story has to resonate with your customers and become a part of why they love you.

In other words, you must sell the fortune, not the cookie.

It has always been the case, but it is so more than ever now.

Drill down to your toes. To the dirt under them. Find that message that only you can deliver, and wrap your product up in it. Or be mass. Two options.

Target your brand to one person, and sell to her over and over again at different addresses.Click To Tweet

Donna Maria, Indie Business Network

To be sure, this is some bombshell news. But it's good news for entrepreneurs who know what they want and who they are serving. If you're on the fence about that, it's time to get off and land your brand squarely in one camp or the other. For Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs like my Indie Business Network members, some will choose one and some will choose the other.

Pretty much all of our members start of serving a niche market, and they do so brilliantly. Some, like Briar Winters of Marble and Milkweed and Nieves Rathbun of By Nieves continue to serve a niche because that's what they want to do. They want to go big without growing big.

Others (and far fewer), like Amber Malcolm of Shabby Chick Cleaners (featured here), who just landed a deal with Home Shopping Network, choose the mass market route because they want their brand to become a household name.

Isn't it great to live in a country where we can so freely choose.

But choose we must. Niche or mass market.

There is very little in between, and soon, there will be none.

Need More Support?

I am continuing to evaluate, and am weaving this into my Maker Mastermind presentations in Boston and Nashville this year. It's that important. You can join me at Maker Mastermind Live in Boston or Nashville and work on making sure you and your business adjust to and thrive in the new retail landscape.


Did this news surprise you? What do you think it means for the future of consumer product sales? How will you adjust your business and brand(s) to thrive in this shifting landscape? If you are inspired by the information here, feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.