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I hate grocery shopping

I know it probably sounds contradictory since I’m a shopper insights specialist.  But like many shoppers I’ve interviewed through shop-alongs, focus groups, and quant studies over the years — those with and without kids, full-time jobs or not – I consider grocery shopping a chore.

shopping cart in snowTo make it more bearable, I’ve got a ‘system’ for this weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) task…

  1. Create meal plan  — CREATIVE
  2. Search for new recipes (and cuisines) to try – FUN
  3. Make a shopping list including non-food items needed – RELATIVELY PAINLESS
  4. Figure out where I need to go and hit the road – JUST PLAIN ‘UGH’

Problem is, this is never a one-stop shopping experience.

In a typical week, my itinerary might look something like this…

–       Costco for personal care/household supplies and stocking up on a good deal (Where else can you buy three racks of ribs for $35?)

–       Whole Foods or farmer’s market for organic fresh produce, meat/poultry, eggs and dairy

–       Trader Joe’s for my cookie butter fix and kale spinach Greek yogurt dip

–       Roundy’s for fresh baked bread, condiments, and baking supplies

So, in order to complete my mission, I need to shop FOUR different stores.  Bottom line is, it’s inconvenient and time consuming.

There is, however, one exception – a visit that seems ‘fun’ every time.

I visit Trader Joe’s knowing exactly what I need to buy. Yet I still find something new that grabs my attention, causes me to linger and often results in an unexpected purchase. 

All I have to do is spend a minute looking at something when an employee appears to offer their assistance.  This usually leads to my asking a question like, “Have you tried these black bean quinoa chips?”

Then they’ll open the package and offer me a sample.  YUM!  I’ve just found my new snack.

In a store filled with ‘private label’ products, they sure know how to make shopping an adventure for me, every time.  And I find myself talking about my Trader Joe’s visits a lot.  (I can’t tell you how many people I’ve turned into “cookie butter fans.”)

Given my positive experiences at Trader Joe’s, I wonder…how can my other “chore stores” transform me into a curious and engaged shopper?

According to Doug Rauch, former President of Trader Joe’s, companies should focus on culture and then build a strategy.

“Culture is the DNA of a company.  A successful company culture includes living the company’s core values and offering a consistent experience.”

This starts with happy employees.  Happy employees feel valued, embrace your company’s core beliefs and are enthusiastic about their job.  This translates to happy customers.

In practice…

  • Train employees to recognize and address shoppers’ needs and preferences
  • Give them the freedom to make product recommendations and offer samples
  • Encourage them to create a dialogue with customers that provides an ongoing source of feedback for improvements/innovation

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