Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Retail Customer-Centric Dilemma: Local vs. Unique

I love this post on PSFK, crying foul somewhat over a Trader Joe's sign promoting how they search the world for exciting and unique things for their customers. The post calls out that this sign kind of flies in the face of Trader Joe's efforts to be "local". Which raises an interesting question: how do retailers balance the drive to present their customers with "new and unique", while respecting the more "green" drive to be local?

Don't confuse this with localized assortments - this isn't about how you customize assortments by store based on the customers who shop there. This is more about how you reconcile to big consumer trends - green/local/sustainable vs. unique/experiential/adventurous. I don't think they're unreconcilable, but it goes back to my post from yesterday - if you're going to put your brand out there as tapping into anything green or sustainable, you better be totally transparent about it. So if you do source from, say, Malaysia for that unique root you can't get anywhere else, you better be willing to explain to your consumers how you're not a. exploiting poor Malaysian farmers to get that root, and b. creating a huge carbon footprint to get that poor little root onto your shelves.

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