How should the cost of national advertising by Whole Foods impact the performance report (and segment margin) for each store?

Whole Foods Market, Inc., is a supermarket chain based in Austin, Texas, with 381 stores in the US (it also has stores in the UK and Canada.)  Whole Foods specializes in natural and organic food and has annual sales of $13 billion.

In October 2014, Whole Foods rolled out its first national advertising campaign in the United States. This advertising campaign is centered on the slogan “Values matter,” and is estimated to have a cost of $20 million.  The advertising will be on TV, in print, and online.

Questions

  1. Would each of Whole Foods’ stores be considered to be a cost center, a revenue center, a profit center, or an investment center?
  2. Assume that Whole Foods prepares performance reports for each of its stores. Would you expect to see a portion of the national advertising campaign cost in each store’s segment margin? Why or why not?
  3. Assume now that the advertising campaign turns out to be quite successful because it increases Whole Foods’ visibility and results in increased sales across all stores in the U.S. Should the U.S. store managers be evaluated on the variance between the budgeted national advertising costs and the actual national advertising costs?  Why or why not?

Instructor Resources

These resources are provided to give the instructor flexibility for use of Accounting in the Headlines articles in the classroom. The blog posting itself can be assigned via a link to this site OR by distributing the student handout below. Alternatively, the PowerPoint file below contains a bullet point overview of the article and the discussion questions. The YouTube video link below is a narration of the blog post article (no discussion questions are included in the YouTube video; those can be assigned separately.)

  • Student handout (pdf) (word) (contains entire blog posting + discussion questions)
  • PowerPoint file (brief article overview + discussion questions)
  • YouTube video (narrated article in shareable YouTube link – forthcoming)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

About Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CGMA

Dr. Wendy Tietz is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA. She is also a textbook author with Pearson Prentice-Hall.

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