If you live near or in a city, chances are you have heard the name “Joe” tossed around. Not Joe, your friend or next door neighbor, but rather Trader Joe’s, the grocery store that was labeled by Reader’s Digest as America’s Second Best Grocery Store of 2018.
You may not have heard this news from Trader Joe’s because the company itself is rather laid back on social media. Trader Joe’s challenges conventional social media rules for a brand of its stature, as the grocery store operates only two forms of social media.
However, over the years, Trader Joe’s has properly differentiated products, earned consumer trust and created a community-oriented experience which has steadily inspired customers to become loyal brand advocates of the grocery leader on social media.
Building A Social Presence Beyond Your Own Accounts
Nowadays, with social media an essential element of brand marketing, communication and customer service, businesses of all sizes must invest time and money into building influence on these platforms. While Trader Joe’s certainly carries clout on social media, the brand has strayed from conventional marketing-driven strategies.
In contrast to many competing brands, Trader Joe’s only runs active accounts on two social media platforms: Instagram and Facebook.
However, just because the Trader Joe’s team chooses to temper the brand’s own social media activity does not mean that they deny having a large presence on the platforms.
Consider the tactics the Trader Joe’s team uses to distinguish itself from competing brands and generate social buzz through its engaged customer base.
The grocery store claimed its product differentiation status when the private label was first born on Trader Joe’s Granola. Ever since, the company has created quirkier, healthier and cheaper spin-offs of products that can be found in the average grocery stores. Each store location contains a developed meat and cheese department, as well as an extensive list of vegetarian and vegan options.
Many consumers also developed a fondness to the fall-themed items that the grocery store releases seasonally. Trader Joe’s went as far as developing an entire fall line including products such as Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, Maple Leaf Cookies, Pumpkin Body butter, an Apple Cider candle and much more all under the private label.
Health-conscious consumers, meat lovers, vegetarians, Fall fanatics and many more subgroups all formed around Trader Joe’s private label products. Trader Joe’s was able to generate buzz on social media through catering products towards the differentiation consumers are looking for.
Average grocery stores create loyalty programs, host sales on specific items and require special clubs to participate in certain deals. Trader Joe’s does its best to maintain reasonable prices and excellent value. Customers enter the store in hopes of not breaking the bank while grocery shopping and they leave happy because of the low prices on high quality food.
If the food is not up to par with consumer expectations, Trader Joe’s management has no issue reimbursing customers for the hiccup in quality. In fact, the store cares so much about exceeding customer’s expectations that everything in the store can be sampled before it is purchased which leads customers to trust that Trader Joe’s cares tremendously about the experience.
Brand loyalists write rave reviews about Trader Joe’s in-store service. These reviews are posted on social and shared with the public, generating positive impressions and overall allowing the grocery chain to reach a larger audience.
Not only does Trader Joe’s cater to its loyal customers, but also to the public. Each of the 488 locations serve the public by supporting local produce suppliers, featuring local artwork and making use of reusable bags.
Customers appreciate when a company is centered around the community because it shows that the business cares about well-being rather than just profit. If the customer is feeling so moved, they might share a photo of their store on social as shown below. Trader Joe’s community-oriented experience creates a sense of comfort and appreciation for loyal shoppers as well as prospective consumers.
Loyal Customers Turned Marketing Stars
By utilizing product differentiation, developing customer trust, having an authentic brand and providing community-based experiences, Trader Joe’s was able to get fans to run dedicated social media accounts for it – without even asking. Trader Joe’s Corporate runs the official Facebook and Instagram page, but a few other pages have developed a loyal following and turned more grocery-shoppers to Trader Joe’s.
@TraderJoesList can be labeled as one of the most popular social media accounts dedicated to Trader Joe’s with a following of 947K followers. The owner of the account, Natasha Fisher, posts bi-weekly grocery hauls and reviews new products. The account @TraderJoesObsessed is, well, obsessed with Trader Joes. New product reviews and recipes can be found on the Instagram profile of the loyalist who describes herself as obsessed.
Over the years and many followers later, Trader Joe’s fan base has tremendously expanded without doing anything special to its social media, but rather focusing on product differentiation, developing consumer trust and creating a community-oriented experience. Trader Joe’s ability to turn customers into brand advocates on social media is a great example and roadmap to organic social media success for brands of all sizes.
Erin Esbenshade is a Public Relations Associate at Flackable, a national, full-service public relations agency headquartered in Philadelphia. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com.