How Trader Joe’s Charts Its Own Path

Deep thought about what to write about for this post, I decided to take a brief snack break. I then poured myself a satisfying bowl of Trader Joe’s Honey Nut O’s, a cereal I have enjoyed for years. While shoveling those sweet and crunchy oat morsels into my mouth, like the refined individual I am, a lightbulb moment occurred. I could not recall any time in my life when I had seen an advertisement for Trader Joe’s. But how, then, have I come to know the brand?  It is here, where the research commenced.

Image result for trader joe's

Founded in 1967,  Trader Joe’s, first opened its doors in Pasadena, but did not launch its own private label, for which it is now know, until the 1970s (Timeline, 2017). Since then, the brand has provided customers with majority private label products at an affordable price. In fact, in 2014, Business Insider found that 80% of Trader Joe’s products were produced in-house (Lutz, 2014). This in-house business strategy lends to its marketing success. With the unique labels and products, like cookie butter, in addition to its competitive pricing, Trader Joe’s acquires and maintains customers through positive brand association and its one-of-a-kind brand and store aesthetics (Lutz,2014). It’s also noted, that the grocery store chain researches the demographics of their customers, in order to tailor products and the store locations to suit them (Tobak, 2010).

Although Trader Joe’s does not engage much traditional marketing through commercials, print, or social media, it has maintained the choice of using radio spots for advertising. Also, more recently, the brand created a blog post section on their website called “Dig In,” which posts articles on new or popular products, as well as, information on store contests and events (Dig-In, 2017). This web blog accompanies their long held, monthly, free, mailed and in-store “Fearless Flyer” booklet which provides information on store products in an editorial-like manner.

Image result for trader joe's fearless flyer

With their quality of products and distinctive image, Trader Joe’s has successfully created a popular brand, without reliance on traditional marketing avenues. However, with the changing times, it will be interesting to see whether this strategy will hold strong. Chinks in the Trader Joe’s marketing armor are, perhaps, presented with its 2016 drop to third-place, in Marketing Force Information’s ranking of favorite grocery stores in America (Bratskeir, 2016). This third place finish came after making it to the first place spot for the three consecutive years prior (Cheng, 2015). The two chains that beat Trader Joe’s, Wegmans and Publix, are active social media users (Wegmans, 2017; Publix, 2017). Is this rating drop a sign for Trader Joe’s to alter their marketing strategy?


Bratskeir, K. (2016, April 18). Wegmans Is officially America’s favorite grocery store. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Cheng, A.(2016, May 13). Trader Joe’s voted America’s favorite grocery store for a third straight year”. MarketWatch. Retrieved from:

Dig In (2017). Dig In, Trader Joes. Retrieved from

Lutz, A. (2014, Oct 7). How Trader Joe’s sells twice as much as whole foods. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Publix (2017, May 6) Publix. Twitter. Retrieved from

Timeline(2017). Timeline. Trader Joes. Retrieved from

Tobak, S. (2010, August 26). 10 Secrets to Trader Joe’s success. CBS News. Retrieved from

Wegmans (2017, May 6). Wegmans food markets. Twitter. Retrieved from

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One Response to How Trader Joe’s Charts Its Own Path

  1. Mariam says:

    As a Trader Joe’s vivid fan, I must admit that I myself always wondered what was the success behind Trader Joe’s business model? The company has been successful for years in carrying about 2,000 private label products, which consumers were willing to try and buy. However, in this highly advanced technological era, Trader Joe’s cannot rely on old marketing fashion and needs to take its marketing into another platform, where consumers get more interaction and share valuable thoughts about their shopping experiences.
    Nice post!