People get pretty fanatical about Trader Joe’s, and evidently, that rabid fan base goes beyond their grocery baskets and into their ears — the Trader Joe’s podcast has become a hit. (Hat tip to Fast Company.)
As of this writing, Inside Trader Joe’s, which launched its first full episode on May 1, is ranked number 5 on the iTunes “Top Podcast” charts. For some context, that’s right below The New York Times’ The Daily podcast, which gets more than one million listeners a day.
Inside Trader Joe’s is a five-part audio series that delves into how TJ’s products come to be, how the company works, and some of the company history. Though they explicitly say they don’t want this show to be a commercial, it’s totally a commercial. And while I could only make it through half an episode, the production value is high, and I could understand why someone who loves shopping there might be interested to learn more about the store… kinda.
It’s easy to see why Trader Joe’s has dipped its toe into podcasting. According to numbers from Edison Research, an estimated 73 million Americans over the age of 12 report that they’ve listened to a podcast in the last month. Podcasts are a great way to connect with audiences in a one-on-one experience, and often, thanks to headphones, to the exclusion of everything else. People listen in their cars, while they’re working out or just put them on to have in the background at home.
It might not be for me, but I’m all for Trader Joe’s trying this experiment. My bigger problem is the inevitable copycats that will follow. Just as Serial spawned a host of other true crime podcasts, it’s inevitable that Trader Joe’s will strike envy in its competitors, and it won’t be long before we see The Safeway Show, or Kroger’s Korner.
So I’m writing this post to ask — no, to beg — eager marketers out there. Don’t. Just… don’t.
Trader Joe’s is sui generis, and it can’t be replicated with a new marketing channel. The store itself is quirky and its products are interesting, with random bells ringing and teddy bears hidden amongst the merchandise. And it already inspires legions of cult-like fans. Creating a fun podcast revealing some of its secrets is actually on-brand for the company.
Anyone else trying to copy the success of this podcast will just be trying too hard, and it will inevitably not work.
FUN FACT: Trader Joe’s is owned by the Albrecht family, to which, sadly, I have no relation.