Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Possible Brand Strategy Behind Trader Joe's Ripping Paper Bags

Screen shot via

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So I must be insane for going to Trader Joe's, bagging my items in a single brown paper bag, and being surprised when the bag immediately rips and everything falls out of it.

No I am not buying the reusable bags because I end up leaving them at home. And I need them for trash.

Over time I have learned how to double bag at Trader Joe's. It's an art form you need to know because the store folks will automatically single-bag and stuff tons of items in each one. Causing the break.

The way you double-bag is to open up a single bag, put a closed bag inside, and THEN open the second bag up carefully. Voila - double bag. 

But even that doesn't hold about a third of the time.

I've decided that I really like Trader Joe's as my go-to store and the ripping paper bags don't daunt me. In fact I think they are part of the brand strategy. Here's why:

Trader Joe's is about delivering great food, at a reasonable price, in a manner that does not harm the planet. 

This is my interpretation of their brand promise, based on the way they describe the products they sell - e.g. "tasty," "no GMO" and price them. 

So when those paper bags - bags labeled with the words "reusable and recyclable" start ripping, what it says to me is:

Trader Joe's cares about the planet more than money. 

Meaning, even though it's more convenient to use plastic, the company is committed to something higher than just making a buck.

So when I participate in the world of Trader Joe's by using a recyclable but ripping plastic bag, I am inconveniencing myself for the sake of a higher value. 

That may explain why I keep going back to the experience of the ripping bag, when there are other ways to transport the purchases.

Don't know if that's their plan, but on a certain level it works for me.