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I was at a Trader Joe’s the other day. There aren’t any near where I live, so when I travel and there’s a store nearby, I always stock up.

What brands would you travel many miles for? Is it about the product or experience, or is it simply the desire to own something that’s hard to obtain?

Give this song from fellow Canadian Dan Mangan a listen as we see what the experts are saying this week…

Marketing Lessons from Trader Joe’s

Some (like me) travel great distances to get inexpensive, good quality, and unique grocery items – then pack it up, send it home. In my informal polling and research, it seems like people familiar with the Trader Joe’s brand love it and do the same. Why? It can’t just be the low prices, friendly atmosphere and great products, can it? Word-of-mouth marketing also seems to be a key element to their success.

The grocery retail business is a tough game – and there are many options out there. So how do they stand out?

We all dream that our products will have mass appeal, which is why it can be difficult to narrow down exactly who your market is. Like most marketers, you may fear that if the market you pick isn’t big enough – or if your message doesn’t get out to enough of them – that your product will fail.

However, Trader Joe’s proves that focus is important. They’ve created an experience that their shoppers are drawn to, and it’s because they have a clear idea of who they help and what those customers care about.

Are your best customers bought and sold on you? Or do you still need to narrow your focus to the right market?

Marketing Lessons from Gibson Guitars

April is International Guitar Month. As a lifetime guitar player, I look for any excuse to talk about them!

When people think of iconic guitar brands, Gibson is top of mind. The brand was instrumental (no pun intended) in creating the sounds of rock and roll over the years. It’s also become a lifestyle brand.

Gibson has had some great marketing successes. But what about marketing blunders?

In 2019, Gibson had just emerged from bankruptcy and was in hyper-marketing mode to usher in a new era of growth and success. But then they posted this video that caused all sorts of confusion and contention in the market.

It was creepy, uncomfortable to watch, and aggressive. Instead of focusing on their customers, they isolated the guitar community and targeted smaller competitors in what was widely perceived as a bully move.

But it didn’t end there. A few days after backlash drove Gibson to pull the video, they followed it up with a lawsuit against one of those competitors, Dean/Luna. And the guitar community went on the attack, with memes and outrage flooding the internet.

Of course, the importance of trademark infringement and the anger resulting in counterfeit guitars are totally valid. But Gibson was going after builders with similar body shapes – not even the part of the guitar that’s patented and out of reach. It was that aggressive – and unnecessary – move that angered people.

For a brand that built such a strong and loyal following, you’d think they would be working on their community, creating excitement and invigorating their brand. Not threatening other businesses. Dumb play, right? What do you think?

I’m sure you don’t want your customers to find alternatives to your brand. So how are you building that sense of community with them so they don’t feel the need to go looking?

As always, don’t hesitate to call me to brainstorm or just say hello!

Looking forward,

Rick Endrulat, President | ricke@v-causeway.com | www.linkedin.com/in/rickendrulat