Trader Joe’s says ‘never mind’ on private label name changes
Trader Joe’s announced earlier last month that it planned to rename a number of private labels, such as Trader José’s and Trader Ming’s, that some deemed racially insensitive. The announced move came around the same time that an online petition on Change.org called for the grocery chain to make the change. Within a few days of its first announcement, Trader Joe’s posted another on its site that it was not planning any brand name changes, contending that its labels were not racist. The chain’s decision-making was based on input from its customers and employees, not petitions, according to the statement.
“Decades ago, our buying team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. We thought then — and still do — that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures,” the announcement reads.
The company said products that don’t meet its requirements are discontinued. Those that do will be kept on its stores shelves for customers to buy and enjoy.
“Recently we have heard from many customers reaffirming that these name variations are largely viewed in exactly the way they were intended — as an attempt to have fun with our product marketing. We continue our ongoing evaluation, and those products that resonate with our customers and sell well will remain on our shelves.”
When news of the online petition first hit, a statement issued by Trader Joe’s led many to conclude that the chain took the issues raised in the online petition seriously.
At the time, Kenya Friend-Daniel, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, said in a statement, “While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day.”
- A Note About Our Product Naming – Trader Joe’s
- Can Trader Joe’s shake off its racist branding tag? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Trader Joe’s suffer any pushback from customers for its clarification that brand name changes will not be tied to online petitions? Do you think the chain is making the right decision regarding the brands that at least some find racially insensitive?