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Trader Joe's Mitch Heeger and Jon Baselone Answer Consumer Questions

Trader Joe's Mitch Heeger and Jon Baselone Answer Consumer Questions

MONROVIA, CA - We can talk about retail strategy all the live long day, but sometimes you need to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth—or in this case, the executive’s mouth. On its podcast, the retailer brought on two top executives to discuss burning consumer questions. Jon Basalone, President of Stores, and Mitch Heeger, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising, offered some insider info on what makes Trader Joe’s so gosh darn awesome.

Basalone and Heeger have collectively been with Trader Joe’s for over 70 years, bringing a mountain of experience to the table. They’ve seen a thing or two regarding retail trends. In this episode, they responded to multiple questions, but the three most pertinent to our industry—in my humble opinion—are as follows:

  • How do you get to know what consumers want?
  • Why are your stores so small?
  • What happened with online delivery?

Mitch Heeger, Executive Vice President, Trader Joe's“We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and we always say that, you know, customers vote with their dollars,” Heeger explained. “We're always looking at, you know, products that sell really well. We're always looking at products that may not sell as well. So if something's not selling as well, we'll discontinue that product.”

Basalone and Heeger respond to their customers on the the choices they make for Trader Joe's

Seems like a simple plan, but it’s obviously been working for Trader Joe’s over the years. Consumers often shop there because of beloved products they can’t find anywhere else. However, some consumers felt a little prickly toward the size of the store. Basalone, however, noted that this store size is intentional.

Jon Basalone, President of Stores, Trader Joe's“We want our stores to be small and intimate, feel like a neighborhood store,” he said. “Having a cavernous store with wide aisles sounds appealing, but I think when you actually go in and start shopping in that environment, it's a little cold and maybe not as friendly as it could be.”

Throughout the podcast, both Heeger and Basalone commented on the Trader Joe’s brand extending past its products to encompass the entire store.

Our brand is the store,” Basalone stated. “The real magic in our stores is when people find all that stuff that isn't on their list and not just from a, ‘Hey, that really helps us grow our business’ and all that kind of stuff. It's also fun and interesting for our customers to have that experience. We'll ask them, ‘Are you finding everything on your list?’ And, 'How much stuff is in your cart that isn't on your list?’ And it's amazing.”

Seems as though that simply can’t be addressed with online delivery options.

To hear the interview in its entirety, listen to the podcast episode here.

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