Trader Joe’s Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Social Media!

Is it arrogance, laziness or pride in the printed word that prohibits some of the country’s biggest brands from going social? When it seems as though everyone has a social media presence (even your dentist) how do the biggies like Apple, Trader Joe’s and Viagra still shun it? Well, Viagra I can see why some users might want to keep their fandom in the drawer…but the others?

Last week I was pulling out crumpled up paper from my tiny NYC mailbox when I spotted Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. The printed black and red flyer expanded into one full sheet that was covered in text. My eyes glazed over and I was about to toss it in the trash with the rest of the direct mail directly ignored by me — save for my new digital project. The project of finding a social media strategy for one of the last holdouts, Trader Joe’s.

The printed flyer (made out of recycled paper) is chock full of recipes and interesting historical tidbits about their products. Who would have known? No one under 50!


A Twitter search produces multiple Trader Joe’s handles — none of which the company monitors itself. Savvy marketers are creating their own Trader Joe’s handles with recipes to capture fans of the company’s products and then drive to their own web sites and blogs. If you don’t “own” your social media, other enterprising individuals will. Go ahead, let “Cooking with Tracey J” take your fans for free:


@TraderJoe’sList has 34,000 followers, and Darth Vader holding a recyclable bag, and drives to someone’s Tumblr blog:


I snapped a couple photos when I passed the Trader Joe’s in Union Square earlier today, capturing their storefront advertising:


Ah, they’re directing traffic to their web site — ok, maybe this is where the magic is. Check it out they have the Fearless Flyer in 3D!


Can’t wait to experience it…and a click leads to:


Oh…a product image that’s been photoshopped to “look 3D”. Trader Joe’s you got me! The execution is just “hokey”. Yes, that’s the only word I can think of. But if that’s their voice, go with it.

A Facebook icon will let me share this with friends, but why would I want to? So my friends can bean me in the head with this can? People like to share what they think is interesting content, a product description is not. Recipes on the other hand are what sharing is made of.


With annual sales of over $8 billion in 2011, Trader Joe’s is hardly headed for bankruptcy, but to sleep on social media is just careless. All it takes is one PR disaster to muddy your reputation and plunge sales. If you can’t defend yourself online and monitor product rumors, your non-corporate corporate ass will be grass. Trust me, the internet is here to stay.

Oh, and Whole Foods with over 3 million Twitter followers, 55K+ tweets is kicking your cyber-butt! Follow them, maybe you’ll learn something.


Trader Joe’s, you did not make my DigiDay, but I’m on the case!



4 thoughts on “Trader Joe’s Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Social Media!

  1. Pingback: Does every brand need to BLOG? | Make My Digi Day

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  3. Pingback: Trader Joe’s Brand Audit | Make My Digi Day

  4. I totally agree! Twitter takes out about 99% of the waiting time in receiving a response from customer service. Once upon a time, our tech support options were limited to an email inquiry, a 30 minutes to an hour automated loop of elevator music on the phone, or driving out to the nearest store location of the product for assistance. With the innovation of things like Twitter, we can ask a company a question and receive an answer within minutes, if they are online. It is easy, frustration-free and, yes, technology has a knack for making us rely on it a little too much.

    Perhaps that’s why some people prefer to be ‘old-school’ and not have a Twitter or Facebook account. Perhaps they would rather interact with the store clerk, or wait for the elevator music to end because they know that they are getting a more in depth answer to the inquiry. Maybe the owners of Trader Joe’s understand it this way.

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