In the mid-90’s, on a trip to San Francisco, my mom brought an empty suitcase with her on the flight. We thought it was for souvenirs, but sadly, we were wrong. She was on a mission: A Trader Joe’s mission. And sure enough, on the way home, the suitcase was so full that we had to sit on it just to get the zipper closed. In it was 50 pounds of Trader Joe’s products. If that isn’t the definition of brand loyalty, I don’t know what is.

For years after, in an effort to avoid having to lug a suitcase cross-country just to get her Trader Joe’s fix, my mom wrote letters to their headquarters making a case for why they should open a store in Atlanta. This seemingly insane desire for a local Trader Joe’s is why it comes as no surprise to me that the brand is the first grocery store identified in the 2017 Prophet Brand Relevance Index™ (BRI).

Consistent & Authentic Customer Experience

Whether visiting a store in San Francisco or Atlanta, the Trader Joe’s in-store experience is uniform, yet true to the culture of the city that it’s in. In our Brand Relevance Index, Trader Joe’s scores high marks for the consistency and dependability of its customer experience.

Each store is modeled on a similar scale and the employees always sport iconic Hawaiian shirts, but the locations also draw from the personality of the local community. For example, a local artist is hired at each location to create unique hand-drawn designs for the product identifiers and signage.

By featuring local produce, murals incorporating local sports teams, and reusable bags with designs for that city, Trader Joe’s creates unique experiences that are still true to their overarching brand.

Unwavering Customer Trust

In the BRI, the metric Trader Joe’s ranks highest for is “I trust.” With no sales, no special clubs and no loyalty cards needed, customers know the price they see is what they get.

Buyers can also purchase with confidence, as you can try anything in the store before purchasing, and return any item for any reason. I’ll never forget the time when I was checking out and mentioned to the cashier the bad kiwis I had purchased the week prior. Without a second thought and without prompting, he reimbursed me.

Commitment to Inspire Customers & Employees

Trader Joe’s ranks highly in one of our key principles of building a relentlessly relevant brand, distinctively inspired. It does more than just supply a carton of eggs or gallon of milk to customers – it inspires them. Whether motivating my mom to lug a suitcase cross-country or attracting employees who are proud to work there, Trader Joe’s goes above and beyond.

Employees get to know your buying habits, recommending a wine that compliments your other groceries, a seasonal pumpkin-flavored Joe Joe (Trader Joe’s take on Oreos), or a mac and cheese recipe that your family will love. Trader Joes works to facilitate connections and experiences beyond that of a typical grocer.

Better Than Your Average Joe

Consumers in the BRI ranked Trader Joe’s highly for having better products, services and experiences than competitors. From their Fearless Flyer that introduces new seasonal products and recipes to their two-buck-chuck $2.99 wine, Trader Joe’s offers unique services and products.

The products in-store feature house-labeled branding rather than big name brands. These Trader Joe’s branded items are highly curated, and since often purchased in bulk and direct from suppliers, the prices can be lower than competitors.

It turns out my mom’s letters must have been persuasive because, in 2006, Trader Joe’s opened a store in Roswell, Georgia. There are now seven stores in Georgia, ensuring that my mom and fellow Trader Joe’s super fans won’t have to transport groceries cross-country ever again.

Looking for more information on the most relevant brands? We surveyed 50,000 consumers to determine which unique brands they cannot live without. Get the full Prophet Brand Relevance Index™ here. 

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