When It Comes to Giving Customers What They Want, Be Like Trader Joe’s

By Susan Guillory

I’m constantly looking around me at the brands I interact with and taking notes on what they do right. Fresh from a grocery trip to Trader Joe’s, I realize that the brand knows a thing or two about not only pleasing customers but also making them raving fanatics. Here’s what you can glean from how the company gives customers what they want.

1. Streamline Selection

Trader Joe’s is not Wal-Mart. There are not 20 kinds of olives for shoppers to choose from. Instead, precious shelf space is reserved for the best brands of a given product. Not only does this allow Trader Joe’s to better control its inventory, but it also takes “analysis paralysis” away from the shopper. The shopping experience is less stressful when you don’t have to make a million little decisions about which brand to buy.

How to Apply: Rather than offering such a wide selection of products or services, zero in on the best-sellers. Those are the ones you excel at delivering anyway, so why bother with the extras?

2. Deliver What Your Audience Wants

If you’ve shopped at Trader Joe’s, you know they’re big on prepared meals and chopped vegetables. This may not appeal to the foodie who lovingly chops and cooks every single meal, but it sure as heck appeals to me, the busy I-don’t-love-cooking single mom.

How to Apply: This requires listening to your customers. You need to understand how they want your products or services. If you sell marketing services, you might find out that there’s a segment of your customers who would like a DIY package where you coach them in doing their own marketing. Good to know.

3. Pass Savings On

Another wonderful thing about Trader Joe’s is that the prices are low. You get quality organic goods at a fraction of what Whole Paycheck charges.

How to Apply: Just because you can charge more doesn’t mean you should. Consider where having lower prices can benefit you. Note: this may work better if you’re selling products than services, since services are directly tied to the value of a unit of your time.

4. Make People Crazy for Your Brand

This one’s a little harder to accomplish, though TJ has certainly figured it out. Its Fearless Flyer has become a cult classic (though I’m not a fan. I like pictures of my food that’s on sale), and people are willing to stand in line a ridiculous amount of time to buy goods there.

How to Apply: Make your brand more than just a company that sells stuff. Create additional value. Look at how HubSpot has become known as a resource for insightful ebooks and reports. How can you become more ingrained in your customers’ worlds?

Trader Joe’s is a brand worth emulating when it comes to exceeding customer expectations.

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Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.


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