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Davis, California

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Why I love Trader Joe’s

The genius of TJ’s marketing strategy and some product recommendations 


By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu


Ah. Trader Joes. It is no understatement to say that this iconic grocery store franchise is, to me, like a beacon of light on the horizon: a place that I gravitate towards like a moth to a flame and which I choose over several other stores to do my weekly shopping.

Continuously, I am baffled by my fondness for Trader Joe’s. Is it, perhaps, my admiration of the detailed signage that adorns the shelves? Could it be my awe at the fresh rows of fruits and veggies, stacked high next to the flower bouquets? Is it the affordable prices, the incredibly friendly staff or the calming atmosphere that emanates throughout the entire store?

To tell you the truth, the answer could very well be all of the above. Even though Trader Joe’s never does any sales or discounts, and doesn’t offer an outlet for online shopping or a rewards program, I have never really felt the absence of these so-called “perks.”

One of the things that Trader Joe’s historically values is consistently offering affordable prices for their products, 80 percent of which are private label — meaning that they are made by Trader Joe’s and only for Trader Joe’s customers. By not outsourcing from other brands, the company can retain the full profit from their private label sales, and ensure that the quality never wavers.

This also creates consistency in their product availability; unlike many stores that discontinue brand partnerships every once in a while, I have noticed that Trader Joe’s keeps products for as long as they can, especially if it’s a popular customer favorite. The high value that they place on customer happiness and satisfaction is one of the many reasons that the chain continues to be a staple in many communities.

This focus on customer connection is absolutely the reason why I spend more money on trying out different Trader Joe’s products. Just last weekend, I was persuaded to purchase their new bakery item, the Chantilly cream vanilla bean sheet cake, because an employee avidly explained how delicious it was when they brought it home to try. It was indeed quite tasty, so no regrets there.

Similarly, every single time that I am checking out items with a cashier (have you noticed there are no self-check-out stations available inside Trader Joe’s?) they happily strike up a conversation, whether it is a simple inquiry about how my day is going or a kind comment about one of the products I purchased. Often I find myself comfortably chatting with them, even though I am not a very extroverted person.

Finally, the strong emphasis that Trader Joe’s places on the design of creative art for all their product labels continues to amaze me every single day. The fonts all look digitally printed, although the slight imperfections are proof that they were done meticulously by hand. The paintings that adorn the walls above the shelves also make the space feel bigger and brighter, and the lighting is a warm yellow with lots of emphasis on natural sunlight. The large selection of plants is also unusual for a typical grocery store, but it works to make the inside of Trader Joe’s vibrant and inviting.

Some of my favorite products that I keep coming back for include the “Taiwanese scallion pancakes” (a perfect lunch size!), the “dark chocolate peanut butter cups” and the “soft and juicy dried mango.” Trader Joe’s ice cream is also superb, and I’ve had a tin of their vanilla ice cream always stocked in my fridge for nearly five years. Not to mention, the “mini hold the ice cream cones” are absolutely delectable, and a perfect dessert to share with anyone (I guarantee those cones will be gone in three minutes, tops).

Overall, with their unconventional yet genius approach to marketing, — from word-of-mouth communication to decorative signage to private labeled products — Trader Joe’s maintains a high standard that many grocery stores don’t even begin to measure up to. This is why, if anyone asks, I will enthusiastically proclaim my love for Trader Joe’s over and over until I have convinced another lost shopper to journey through its glorious aisles.


Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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