Trader Joe's Digital Strategy_Marone_ADV892


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This is a proposal for a digital strategy for Trader Joe's grocery store chain. It includes company background and culture, then suggests website changes, social media platform use with SCVNGR, a corporate blog and mobile app. This is an assignment for ADV 892 at Michigan State University, Summer 2012.

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  • Greeting and introduction to presentation.
  • Trader Joe’s began as Pronto Markets, as small convenience store chain in 1950’s California. Their primary competitor was 7-11 stores. In 1967, they changed their name to Trader Joe’s. They made the stores bigger and decked them out with hard to find, tasty foods under the “Trader Joe’s” label. The rest is history and you can read all about their big changes through the decades on their website, but what you need to know is they are and have been the #2 rated grocery store in the country following Wegman’s. There are now over 365 stores nationwide and a few more opening each year. Generally speaking, they are a private, secretive company. They pride themselves on having a great value- so there are no gimmicks, no sales, no coupons, no frequent buyer cards. They buy direct from suppliers, they pull items that aren’t selling, they have a limited stock compared to other stores and they are a fraction of the size. But their aisles and parking lots are always full. They really are a “specialty food store”.
  • Trader Joe’s has a unique brand, unlike any other grocery store chain. Someone said, they create trends, they don’t follow them. Their brand is based on the idea of a world traveler, searching for the best products with an interesting background story at a great price. Shopping at Trader Joe’s isn’t a run of the mill, ho hum trip to the grocery store. It is an experience, an adventure, and it’s intended to be. Products are moved around in the store, what you find in one store, you might not find in the other, and you never know when a new found favorite product will disappear forever. But, customers keep coming back because it’s a great store, a fun and interesting brand and overall a good experience.
  • What does the Trader Joe’s customer look like? Some sources suggest that they have the most diverse consumers of any store. Generally speaking, you’ll have urban and suburban residents from 20-60 years old who are food savvy, wine enthusiasts, health conscious, etc. etc. etc. But this quote probably sums it up best, from a Trader Joe’s store captain, “Our favorite customers are out of work college professors, they are well read, well traveled and appreciate good value.” So considering that this company has loyal customers, are consistently ranked 2 nd in the nation, there is not much room for improvement. I set out with the challenge to take the great experience of shopping at Trader Joe’s and bring it to the next level via digital marketing and social media starting first with their company website.
  • The Trader Joe’s website is definitely a great graphic representation of their brand, which automatically makes it stand out from their competitors. However, there are a two main areas for improvement. First, the site content is very inconsistent so I would suggest revising content for search engine optimization using specific keywords. Next, the site has many great resources, especially those that pertain to using their products. There are guides for wine and food items and they’ve created a labeling system that quickly identifies products that are gluten free, vegan, kosher, and more. However, some of these great resources are buried in the site and difficult to find. I would suggest creating obvious cues to action on the home page that include how to find a store, to build a shopping list, find a recipe or subscribe to the blog. Considering that the Trader Joe’s brand identity is such a significant component of the site, I don’t think you’ll ever see a bright white background like Wegman’s or Whole Foods, but with a little strategic reorganization, Trader Joe’s can maintain their identity and enhance the user’s experience. Next, I will address Trader Joe’s in social media.
  • Except, Trader Joe’s doesn’t really use any social media. So where to begin? It’s difficult to say definitively why Trader Joe’s has no official Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. But, they do have thousands of fan-hosted Facebook Groups, Twitter handles and more. Bloggers, competitors, journalists and others speculate, but essentially I believe that these platforms aren’t quite the right fit for this company. Like I said, this company doesn’t follow trends, they create them. Additionally, you could argue that any official facebook page or twitter handle at this point would be nothing more than a drop in the bucket amongst the thousands. But that doesn’t mean that Trader Joe’s can’t participate in social media. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit. As I was considering the possibilities, I kept thinking about what makes this company unique: their fun, fresh, adventurous and dynamic treasure-hunt style. So I propose Trader Joe’s jump on the scvngr bandwagon.
  • If you’ll recall, scvngr is a social, location based platform like Foursquare, but they enhance the experience by making it a game. Locations may be restaurants, historical or cultural sites, stores, institutions, or any other place, and there are associated challenges, badges, treks, and real life rewards. The platform provides some basic evaluation metrics in the form of trek stats. But essentially, Trader Joe’s could create custom challenges or treks for each and every one of it’s 365 stores and provide real life rewards. This may include something outrageous like a “supermarket sweep” style spree, or something simple like a free reusable shopping bag, but either way, consumers could go to their local Trader Joe’s or visit another one, complete the challenge-maybe something like finding a hidden product, answering a question about a certain products history, taking your picture with the wine expert, or anything really, and share that experience with friends via other social media. Essentially, you take the already fun exciting shopping adventure and add a digital component. I would also encourage the stores to incorporate local flavor, and track their best and worst practices to share across the other stores around the country. And perhaps, for the Trader Joe’s uber fan, a trek to visit every one of the country’s stores?! The possibilities are endless. Now, on to the TJ blog.
  • Currently, Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer newsletter is distributed monthly via email and snail mail. It includes store news, new product information, original illustrations, and more -it’s been called educational and journalistic, and unlike most grocery store mailings, there are no coupons, no bright photography. This publication is unexpected and certainly different from your typical grocery store. But frankly, it could be more. I suggest this newsletter retain its quality content and style, but transition to a dynamic blog that is updated at least weekly if not more. There could be additional product insights, more recipes, photos and videos, and most importantly an opportunity to dialogue with consumers, to receive and respond to feedback and engage customers. I would suggest eliminating the email distribution, and maintaining the direct mailer for a time, assessing its feasibility and then deciding to either eliminate or continue with it. Finally, the last main component of the digital strategy would be a mobile app.
  • Grocery shopping and mobile phones were made for each other. So many people use their phones to write out their shopping list, because they always have it with them. While Trader Joe’s does have a mobile version of their site, it has limited capabilities. I would suggest creating a corporate app that would link to their scvngr challenges, allow for building your shopping list, and based on that list, recommend recipes and wine pairings. It would include in-depth product guides that you could access either through a product list, or by scanning a product in the store; there would also be new product highlights and alerts, and stories about stores and the company. Finally, what are the costs and benefits?
  • I estimated an overall budget for the website, social media, mobile app and of course some internet marketing with a google adwords campaign at just over $2 million. While this may seem high, considering the lack of an existing infrastructure, many of these efforts would be started from scratch. Some of the benefits, which would ultimately tie into the goals of the strategy would include more foot traffic in the stores, more web traffic, increased customer interaction, engagement and satisfaction, increased sales, and finally, being Trader Joe’s, more fun! Thank you!
  • Trader Joe's Digital Strategy_Marone_ADV892

    1. 1. beyond specialty food:exploring the digital frontier kate marone adv 892-summer 2012 michigan state university
    2. 2. from humble beginnings as a 1950’s convenience store emerges the… grocery store in U.S.“TJ culture dips intothe health food movement,the gourmet food, wine and booze craze, andthe ever-popular discount ideal,but all in moderation.” -Associated Press
    3. 3. “we explore the worldto find productswithunique flavors, “Trader Joe’s is ainteresting stories treasure huntand incredible value.” for their consumers and they take pride in keeping the experience fresh and unique.” -Forbes Magazine
    4. 4. “Our favorite customers are out-of-work college professors: well-read, well-traveled, and appreciate good value.” -TJ Store Captain THE CHALLENGE:enhance the Trader Joe’s experience with digital marketing and social media.
    5. 5. 1. Optimize with Keywords  Gourmet  Grocery  Specialty Food  Organic  Natural 2. Create Cues to Action  Find a Store  Build Your Shopping List  Try a Recipe  Subscribe to Our Blog
    6. 6. Currently,Trader Joe’s has no official social mediapresence. A solution uniquely suited!
    7. 7. A social, location-based gaming platform for mobile phones. 365+ stores withunique challenges local flavor involved engagementin-store adventures at a new level
    8. 8. “the mostconsumer friendly monthly newsletter” and “journalistic!” Keep: engaging & quality content. New, dynamic platform with additional stories, recipes, photos, videos, dialogue with buyers!
    9. 9. Mobile Joe-scvngr-recipes-product guides-new product alerts-mobile shopping list-wine pairings-seasonal highlights-product stories
    10. 10. Benefits More Foot Traffic More Web Traffic Customer Interaction and Engagement Increased Sales More Fun!