Spotlight on Trader Joes: hip, cool and off-beat

Poring over the Q2 data of our CultureQ research, I of course found countless insights about those big-name brands I expected to dominate the discussions—blue chip brands like Apple, Ford, and Nike, and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. But I was fairly surprised to see that Trader Joe’s was mentioned nearly as much as the expected set (albeit most often by trend setters and early adopters), and greatly intrigued by the enthusiastic clamoring of our participants for this quirky chain of grocery stores. According to our data, Trader Joes’, or “TJ’s” as its loyal customers call it, has cultivated an eclectic, cult-like following of Millennials. It seems they love everything about TJ’s from its products to its employees to its kitschy store design, and their intimate connection with the brand is captured in their CultureQ musings. The first Trader Joes opened in 1967, the first trademark Hawaiian shirts were donned by employees in 1969, and since then, the store has expanded into a small grocery store empire of over 350 stores in 30 states. And all the while, Trader Joe’s has retained its quirky vibe and “neighbourhood feel despite being a chain,” as one CultureQ participant reflects. Despite its hundreds of locations, it somehow it still feels local and original, which adds to its appeal. It still promotes itself as “Your Neighborhood Grocery Store,” and its stores are tucked away in intriguing locations, such as a beautiful, old architectural-gem-of-a-bank in Brooklyn that another participant labelled a “palace of food.” Trader Joe’s is cool, but in an off-beat way. It seems that their coolness is a product of...