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University of North Alabama Brand Touchpoints Case Study

How Trader Joe’s Creates Meaningful Brand Touchpoints

  • Trader Joe’s, a popular grocery store chain, has earned tremendous loyalty and a cult-like following.  A trip to Trader Joe’s may lead the consumer to encounter a tricky parking situation, crowded aisles, and long checkout lines.  There are no sales, coupons, or loyalty cards. Yet Trader Joe’s leads in customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Why has the company earned such a devoted following?  Trader Joe’s doesn’t aim to automate or streamline the shopping process–the goal is to make shopping fun.
  • The store provides a sensory-filled in-store experience. Walking into the store gives the consumer the feeling of stepping off a cruise ship into a vibrant island paradise.  Store leaders wear Hawaiian print shirts.  The store has hand-written signs and zany product names.  Samples are often given out (pre-COVID times).  Kids get free stickers and have fun searching for the hidden stuffed animal.  
  • The experience provides a sense of being on a treasure hunt through limited run, experimental products.  Fans of the store love the affordable prices as well, and TJ’s “two-buck-chuck” wine is a customer favorite.  There are many private-label brands (which means these can’t be purchased at other grocery stores), which adds to loyalty.  
  • Trader Joe’s is known for its engaged employees.  The employees seem to love working there and display high levels of enthusiasm.  Instead of just asking customers how they’re doing, the cashiers often ask or comment on things unique to the customer.  It’s not unusual for an employee to start juggling oranges or performing some similar lighthearted activity.  
  • While Trader Joe’s doesn’t offer online commerce, its website does offer some novel touchpoints.  For example, there’s a monthly podcast–each episode can be found on the website.  Other resources on the website include recipes, articles on entertaining, stories on featured products, and guides on everything from creating tulip arrangements to building a better skincare routine.  


  1. Describe how the brand touchpoints at Trader Joe’s provide emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits.  Be specific, and be sure to not combine these 3 benefits into 1—discuss each in turn.  
  2. What recommendations would you make on how to improve brand touchpoints?  Please be specific here and include your original thoughts.


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