When Publix's CEO Todd Fakenamedon'tsueus heard President Trump tell a rally of supporters in Tampa that Floridians were required to show ID for groceries, he was confused: "I didn't think it was true...but I'm a wealthy person, so I get all of my food delivered from Whole Foods using Instacart, so I just wasn't sure." Of course, it turned out Trump's statement was completely false, but it gave Mr. Jones a good idea: "Why not require an ID?"
"One of the challenges Publix faces is the reality that
less and less fewer and fewer people view the Publix experience as "a pleasure".
"It used to be that Publix was the epitome of luxury grocery shopping. That isn't the case anymore," said Publix director of marketing and user acquisition Heinrich Schweinhund. "Our stores are outdated, we don't give away chocolate chip cookies, the world is catching on that chicken tenders on submarine sandwiches are gross unless you are really, really high, our bag boys tell customers too much about their personal lives, and we have spent lots of money over the years on political campaigns that are antithetical to a modern society."
In an effort to attract high net worth customers, Publix plans to compete with fancy grocery stores like Whole Foods and Milams by redesigning its dated stores, raising its prices, and requiring customers to pre-register and show a store-issued ID before making any purchase. "People aren't interested in a community grocery store any more. They want an exclusive shopping experience where people can make assumptions about your income and sophistication by the very fact that you shop there," said Mr. Schweinhund, which means "Pig Dog" in German.
To register to shop at Publix, customers will have to pay an annual $500 fee which will grant them access to most stores. Customers desiring to shop at Publix's "signature" stores, such as those in Brickell and Weston, must pay extra.
"The IDs are great because they really make the shopping experience more streamlined," said Mr. Pig Dog. "The ID will display our customers' dietary information and eating habits, and also allow our cashiers (now called "Nutritional Facilitators") to ensure that the items purchased don't contain any ingredients that cannot be consumed by the customer, which actually is a pretty good idea."
"This is an absolute godsend," said Mariana McCartney, whose son Julian has a peanut allergy. "Now, when we scan our items it alerts us when there is a peanut in one of the products we are buying. It is actually a very good idea."
"I agree, this is a good idea," said Miriam Mordechaishaninbergstein, a reform Jew who occasionally cooks Kosher meals in her un-Kosher kitchen for the Holidays. "Last Rosh Hashona I accidentally bought non-Kosher shrimp. Oy gavalt, I was so embarrased. Now, because the ID says that I am Kosher for one week in September, it will let me know not to buy shrimp."
As part of the rebrand, Publix will change its signature motto from "Where Shopping is a Pleasure" to "Where Shopping is a Privilege."
But not everyone is thrilled. Community activists worry that Publix's attempt to cater (not a pun) to wealthier customers will leave poorer customers without as many grocery options. When asked where he believes Publix's less affluent customers will shop, Mr. Shcweinhund, which again, means "Pig Dog", said "The same place they've always been shopping: Win-Dixie."