Current events and the product mix


A few weeks ago, Trader Joe’s started selling their own brand of hand sanitizer. I asked the people at the customer service desk about it, and they said a lot of customers had requested hand sanitizer, and that it was selling well so far. In fact, I was one of the people who asked for it, but I doubted they’d take action so quickly. Anyways, I bought a bottle and it seems just as good as the other brands out there.

However, I don’t think customer requests alone are what made Trader Joe’s introduce the new product when they did. Rather, I believe that current events — namely, the Swine Flu hysteria — created a sense of urgency about proper hygiene. Countless articles suddenly started mentioning hand sanitizer as a good way to stay healthy, and I bet these caught the attention of the people in Trader Joe’s corporate. Coupled with customer requests, current events helped convince them to get the new product to market.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with tailoring your product mix to what’s on people’s minds. In fact, it’s a very logical strategy. I wonder how many other products end up languishing in the “maybe” pile for years, waiting for some external event to generate enough interest to get them over the hump.