+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Woman breaks down the 'psychology tricks' Trader Joes uses to create its loyal following

Even the subtlest perks are all by design.

trader joes, psychololgy
@urbannic/TikTok

Trader Joe's customers love the stores iconic items and laid-back vibes.

Few grocery stores have achieved a full blown culture quite like the retail fan-favorite Trader Joe’s, where folks can always count on an adventure filled with cookie butter, cheap wine and conversations with an Hawaiin shirt-clad employee.

And while there are some perhaps obvious reasons behind TJ’s loyal following—the eclectic seasonal food items, the relaxing atmosphere—one woman is taking an in-depth look at some of the lesser known “psychological tricks” that keep shoppers coming back time and time again.


Research enthusiast Nicole Urban, whose entire TikTok is dedicated to analytical deep dives on a variety of topics, recently went viral for explaining Trader Joe’s unending appeal.

“Trader Joe’s rejects a lot of the core business practices of average grocery stores,” Urban noted, saying that instead of focusing on a huge variety of items and offering coupons like most grocery stores do, TJ’s is all about offering a one-of-a-kind “customer experience.”

That includes charismatic, gregarious employees more than willing to strike up a friendly conversation, artistic, hand drawn price tags that mimic a local market, reliable prices, and of course, those oh-so-tempting limited edition seasonal and experimental items that make shopping “feel like a treasure hunt,” says Urban.

@urbannic Replying to @eleni ♬ original sound - nicole urban

Urban then listed two unique characteristics that even the most regular Trader Joe’s customer might have never noticed were drawing them in—the TJ’s parking lot and frozen food aisle.

Unlike most grocery store chains, Trader Joe's keeps its frozen aisle “fun and accessible” by doing an open freezer bin layout, getting rid of annoying freezer doors that block folks from casually scoping out new items.

And while the freezers inside are wide open, the ever congested TJ’s parking lot is quite the opposite. As Urban explained, Trader Joes are often placed in high traffic arrears with smaller parking lots that consequently always appear full..making it appear competitive to get into. That’s right, getting the primo parking spot after ten minutes of circling is all part of the experience.

According to Urban, it’s all these subtle factors that contribute to trader Joe’s huge success. And judging by the thousands of comments that followed her viral video, it seems she was right on the money.

People particularly began gushing about their own wholesome interactions with trader Joe’s cashiers. One shared "My cashier made me cry because she said I looked like I needed flowers and then called me a good mom after giving me a free bouquet."

Another added, “One time I was at Trader Joes and applying to adopt a dog. The cashier asked to see the dog and encouraged us to adopt him. 3.5 years later and we still show her pictures of him when we shop there. She only knows us as Winston’s parents.”

Others agreed that the limited selection was a main reason they returned, since it made shopping much less stressful.

“I love that they don’t have a billion choices, as an anxious person…I’ve been shopping there since 2015!” one person exclaimed.

Some even listed things they loved about that story that didn’t get covered by Urban, such as its flower selection and use of natural lighting.

Even people who didn’t live in the U.S. wrote that they regarded Trader Joes as some sort of “mystical place” they longed to visit one day.

This is such an illuminating example of humanity’s shared, deep felt need for novelty. It can transform even the most mundane of tasks, like grocery shopping, into the highlight of someone’s day. In our increasingly more automated, tech-driven world, the demand for fun in-person experiences will only go up. And hopefully that means more stores opting for the Trader Joe’s approach…only with better parking lots.

Sponsored

From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

True

Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






Keep ReadingShow less
Canva

Unsolicited opinions aren't just annoying. They can be hurtful.

Sure, parents sometimes make some…interesting choices when it comes to naming their child. But the key word there is choice. It probably should go without saying that it’s not the best move to insert an opinion on something rather personal and vulnerable, especially when that opinion is not requested.

But nonetheless, people do cross this boundary, expressing their disapproval and giving new moms and dads yet another reason to second guess themselves.

As one frustrated mom shared on Reddit, her own in-laws gave what she described as the “most unhinged” reaction to her newborn’s name, leaving her and her husband completely “crushed.”
Keep ReadingShow less

Teresa Kaye Newman thinks that Boomer parents were right about a few things.

Teresa Kaye Newman, a teacher about to have a son, knows a lot about how to deal with children. So she created a list of 11 things she agrees with Boomers on when it comes to raising kids.

Newman believes she has credibility on the issue because she has 13 years of experience dealing with “hundreds and hundreds” of other people’s kids and has seen what happens when her so-called “Boomer” parenting principles aren’t implemented.

Of course, Newman is using some broad stereotypes in calling for a return to Boomer parenting ideas when many Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z parents share the same values. But, as someone who deals with children every day, she has the right to point out that today’s kids are entitled and spend too much time staring at screens.

Keep ReadingShow less

Elizabeth wants to know if she's "terrible" or a "genius."

While it is lovely to have friends and family members give your children toys for holidays and birthdays, they can pile up and take over entire rooms of the house. Plus, many parents are mindful of their kids having too many playthings because they don’t want them to be spoiled.

Elizabeth, an actress and popular TikTokker, accidentally came across a Christmas regifting hack that prevents toy pile-up and she’s not sure whether it makes her the hero or the villain in her story.

“I'm doing something super controversial for my kids’ birthday and Christmas presents this year,” she said in a post with over 1.5 million views. “Half of me is like, 'You're a terrible person, you're crossing the line,' and the other half is like, 'You are a literal genius.'"

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Over-the-top school dress-up weeks have parents feeling grinchy

The holidays are busy enough without throwing "dress as your favorite Christmas song" into the mix.

Time to rein in the school dress-up days, folks.

Hey, kids! Happy December! We know that school can feel like drudgery, and it's been a few months since school started, and we want you to not hate coming here, so we decided to do something fun and festive that we think will create a sense of school pride and spirit! It's school dress-up week!

What this means is that during the busiest time of the year, when your parents are already up to their ears in holiday prep, shopping for and wrapping gifts, planning and attending work parties and end-of-year recitals and concerts, trying to navigate the emotional complexities of holiday family drama, trying to make your Christmas magical by moving that frickin' Elf on the Shelf every night, etc., we're going to add to the to-do list by pressuring them to help you come up with specific outfits to wear to school for an entire week. Doesn't that sound neat?

Dress-up weeks are fun on paper, and they can be fun when they're kept super simple. "Wear red or green!" is easy enough. "Dress as your favorite Christmas character!" though? Not so much.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Imagine you're getting ready to drop some bad news on someone. Say, breaking off a months-long relationship.

"I'm not sure how to say this," you start. "This has been really great. Dating you has been a lot of fun. You're really wonderful. And—" You roll out a string of platitudes and compliments, dreading and delaying the part that comes next, when you finally say "It's over."

You think you're being nice. Protecting their feelings. You don't want to be coldhearted, right?

Keep ReadingShow less