I don’t care how many headlines there are that speculate otherwise: McDonald’s will never be Starbucks, Taco Bell will never be Chipotle, and stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart will never be Whole Foods.

Those other concepts can try to copy, but they lack the focus, commitment, and authenticity to pull it off. Consumers may not be able to quite put it into words, but as a group they can spot a fake.

McDonald’s is the best-run large-scale fast food company I’ve seen. I marvel at its efficiency and relative consistency around the world. But that distinctive McDonald’s smell and the statues of Ronald McDonald just don’t evoke the same upscale, relaxing coffee shop feel a Starbucks does. McDonald’s will never be that “third place” for most of Starbucks’ targeted audience.

While Taco Bell is associated with post-midnight “fourth meal” runs by frat brothers and jokes about the quality of its meat, Chipotle has a clean, higher-end feel and is all-in on “food with integrity.” Taco Bell’s Cantina Bell menu loses a lot of allure to typical Chipotle devotees when you can get gorditas, chalupas, and Doritos Locos Tacos at the same drive-through window.

It’s the same way with Whole Foods. Traditional grocers and one-stop shops are adding organic food sections and offerings, but Whole Foods is all-in on organic. The company and its employees actually seem to care about organics — rather than simply caring about losing market share to organics. The store experience (which we’ll get more into soon) is vastly different at a Whole Foods versus a regular grocer, a Target, and certainly a Wal-Mart.

As for the clones that are popping up, even if they are adept at copying Whole Foods’ playbook (very hard to do … no one’s yet successfully stolen Starbucks’ or Chipotle’s), they’re playing well behind a first mover. If you combined the annual sales of SproutsThe Fresh Market, and Natural Grocers, they’d equal about a third of Whole Foods’ $13.6 billion in sales.