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  • Annie Dunne

New York - why Trader Joes are nailing it with customers!

Trader Joe's is interesting in many ways and a visit to a few of their stores in New York in September got me thinking about what we could learn from them from a marketing & product innovation standpoint.

Despite its lack of social media activity, it is adored by customers, and almost has a cult following. It's average store size is almost boutique like, 15,000 sq ft, averaging much smaller than a typical supermarket, and their geographical position tends to be in developing/developed neighbourhoods with a higher income. Their offer is more than 80% private label and they grow at a slow consistent pace, and intentionally don't sell outside US Here's some of my observations 1. Exquisitely edited ranges, focusing on unique products under private label. This is particularly evident in categories across pantry. Instead of 50 olive oil choices, they have five. Making it simple for shoppers to choose.

2. Product guarantee- tasty, nutritious and without GMOs, coloring or preservatives. You also won’t find products with high-fructose corn syrup or MSG. This serves as a guarantee towards customers to shop with confidence.

3. Product innovation - although their ranges are very well edited, their focus on what consumers are looking for in terms of new flavours, formats, categories is very evident. Take alternatives bread Substitutes as an example, they offer a range of egg wraps, cauliflower slims, cauliflower pizza bases.

4. Encouraged purchase of new products - in-store demonstrations, tastings, celebration displays of newness and signage is clearly evident. I get the sense from my store visits that customers love to see new products launching and really get behind them.

5. Season-specific products- given the size of store, they overindex on seasonal specific lines, Halloween vibes were very evident. This strategy plays into the customer curiosity and exploration

6. Instead of selling the product they sell the experience of it . The entire shopping experience centres around the product, but there's also something about how the store made me feel. Not too serious, warm and chatty staff and fun & informative graphics.

Key Take away - Products only tell part of the story. Build an entire shopping experience around it and create a memorable service to turn customers into fans.

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