There are many things I enjoy while visiting the U.S., but as a Canadian, one of my favourite things south of the border is Trader Joe’s.
I’ll cross the border simply to do a grocery run at the beloved retail chain, which was launched in 1967 by Joseph Hardin Coulombe.
Trader Joe’s has more than 500 stores across the U.S—growing immensely from its humble beginning as a single store in California.
Part of the retailer’s success lies in its marketing strategy, which involves the use of consumer-generated marketing. Trader Joe’s has no online presence, it has no loyalty rewards program, and no sales.
What it does have is a loyal following of consumers. These consumers talk online about recipes and unique items they love from the retailer, giving Trader Joe’s a deluge of organic marketing content.
All of this is uninvited content that fans of Trader Joe’s produce on their own accord.
But other companies are inviting customers to play a more intentional role in developing brand messages and shaping products.
Starbucks in one example of this. The ubiquitous coffee chain has the My Starbucks Idea platform, where it collects ideas from customers for new products. It’s led to the creation of Cake Pops, the Hazelnut Macchiato and free Wi-Fi we’ve all come to love at Starbucks.
Other companies are also using consumer-generated marketing in their strategies, including PepsiCo, Southwest Airlines, MasterCard, Unilever, H.J. Heinz and Harley-Davidson.
But while consumer-generated marketing can help brands, it can also become tedious when not done right.
For example, Heinz Ketchup once invited consumers to submit homemade ads for its ketchup on its YouTube page. That led to more than 8,000 entries—the majority of which were bad.
Opening the flood gates to user-generated content might not be the best idea, but the potential in this strategy remains, especially now that we live in an era where consumers are individual content creators.
Is your company amplifying its brand through use-generated content? If not, it might be a good time to tap into the potential this strategy offers your organization.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.