News & Media

Impact players: Trader Joe's
January 11, 2019
Source: Store Brands
2. Trader Joe’s — A continued model for private brands

In October, there was vegan banana bread, pepita salsa, soft honey nougat with almonds, horseradish aioli, sparkling coconut water with yuzu and carrot cake spread.

In September, there was birthday cake popcorn, caramel apple-flavored granola, almond butter cocoa bars and spiced pumpkin madeleine cookies.

In August, there was organic yellow lentil and brown rice spaghetti, organic Kansas City-style barbecue sauce, organic hemp seed bars and barbecue-seasoned spatchcocked chicken.

And in every month prior there were many other product introductions at Trader Joe’s that characterize what private brands have become, thanks in huge part to the Monrovia, Calif.-based retailer. While Trader Joe’s, which operates 475 stores in 43 states, isn’t growing so fast that there is a location on every street corner, its impact on private brands has been and continues to be dramatic. That’s because of the product selection above. Trader Joe’s offers innovative and quality products at a value.

“There’s so much variety in terms of what goes into our products, but there is a very consistent thing that has hit, we hope, product to product to product — it tastes great, and it’s enjoyable to eat [and] drink. That’s really important,” Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s vice president of marketing product, said in a company-produced podcast earlier this year.

Sloan emphasized in the podcast that Trader Joe’s products “really are about what they are.” By that, he means they are free from a list of undesirable ingredients, including artificial dyes, GMOs and synthetic preservatives.

“And while customers expect those attributes from our products, products live and die by whether or not they taste good,” Sloan noted.

Because so many of Trader Joe’s products do taste good, among their other attributes, consumers’ trust in private brands overall is growing. Trader Joe’s has been a pied piper for private brands.

And Trader Joe’s, which has been around longer than most people realize (1967), will continue to lead and impact the industry.