As my colleagues wished me a happy birthday last week, they asked me what fun thing I had to do on my birthday: I told them that one of them was to go to the opening of the Trader Joe’s which opened in the suburbs of New Orleans that very day. I am sure some that the choice of viewing a retail store was odd, but not only is grocery store obsession a very New Orleans thing, it is most certainly one of my favorite “busman’s holidays.” (I also went to the inaugural fried chicken festival on Sunday so don’t worry about me too much.) This was not my first visit to Trader Joe’s. Some years ago, I had tagged along with my sister to the one near to her suburb, out in one of the outlying suburbs of Cleveland. Back then, I was a bit confounded by it. I have since made it to another, but as they were nowhere near me I didn’t think of them too often. Now, New Orleans has one. Here is my FB post about it:
Whew- made it to and back from Metairie to experience the opening weekend energy of Trader Joe’s. As others have said, if you like packaged nuts or healthier freezer dinners or basic wines you will find some items here that you like. Honestly, I think this chain (in terms of regular shoppers) is for those who don’t love to shop for food or even want to think too much about food. If that’s you, this store will appeal.
Fruits and vegetables are not what they do well, but you’ll find a sale item once in a while, although having bananas priced as each (19 cents or 29 cents for organic) could be confusing to many, even though their thinking is sound: scales take up space, and lots of people only want a few at a time. That is a good price (as it comes to around 50-75 cents per pound) but not an amazing price as I think Circle Foods had them at 39 cents a pound last time I was there.
I didn’t think the prices beat the NOLa Whole Foods on most items or when they did, by much. This seems especially true since the Broad Street WF is essentially a prototype of the emerging 365 WF store that is designed to try to beat TJ’s.
TJ is prolly not going to become your only store and it’s not laid out to wander around in to get inspired…. I’m glad it’s here, mostly cuz more healthy choices are now available and I don’t like it when one chain has a stranglehold over shoppers. I’ll pop in a while, but this chain still strikes me as odd and a pale version of stores like Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati http://www.epicurious.com/…/jungle-jims-grocery-store-ohio-… Still, I predict that Dorignac’s, the International Market – and to a lesser extent Whole Foods Veterans – will prosper being near this store.
I think knowing who the core shoppers are for the stores around a market is very helpful. In many cases, research is available on the chains or a visit to the local store at both its peak and at its slow time can usually tell you about that store’s demographic.
To give an illustration, I have included some global demographic info from Whole Foods and Trader Joes as well as a few market shopper personas. Forgive the errors and the oversimplifications. The data on the stores comes from retail research available online.The market data comes from the many surveys and data collection reports I have either participated on or read. Do be aware that there are many subgroups within each of these to be explored.
Grocery store shoppers
- Whole Foods focuses on the per capita population that has college degrees. The key customer for the average Whole Foods location is a working parent that is between the age of 30 and 50.
- From the Yougov site: The typical Whole Foods customer is a female between the ages of 25 and 39 with more than $1,000 in discretionary monthly income. She likely works in architecture or interior design. She doesn’t mind paying more for organic food and she tries to buy fair-trade products where available. Her interests include writing, exercising, and cooking. She would describe herself as ethical, sensitive, and communicative, but also admits to occasionally acting like a self-absorbed and demanding daydreamer. Her favorite foods are sushi and tea and she probably drives a Mercedes-Benz.
Packaged Good (Enough) aka Trader Joe’s:
- Most research shows that the TJ shopper is the most likely chain in the U.S. to be brand loyal and to recommend the store to others.
- TJ Culture dips into the health food movement, the gourmet food, wine and booze craze, and the ever-popular discount ideal. But all in moderation. “Our favorite customers are out-of-work college professors,” says Tony Hales, captain of the store in Silver Lake. “Well-read, well-traveled, appreciates a good value.”
- Members of TJ Culture often share other characteristics… who wear sunscreen, even over their tattoos; who travel on frequent-flier miles and with the Lonely Planet guide rather than a Frommer’s. People who play guitar and pay their taxes. Who roller-blade or bike to work on the days they’re not driving the minivan. Who dress their kids in tie-dye but have really good car seats.