After what some deemed as "racist" marketing at Trader Joe's went viral, a petition started to have the marketing changed. At first, the higher-ups at Trader Joe's seemed open to it. However, since then, they might have changed their minds...
Racism Or Inclusivity?
For those who have never been, Trader Joe's often names their non-American dishes after the country they are from. For instance, the grocery store uses the sub-brands Trader Giotto's, Trader Joe San, Trader Jose's, and Trader Ming's to mark a dish's origin. However, while the brand found this inclusive, others did not and soon started a petition to change the names. Within days, Trader Joe's responded.
"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," company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said. "Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate those products with name variations that remain in our stores. If we find certain product names and-or products are not resonating with customers, we won't hesitate to make changes."
Afterward, everything seemed fine at first. Those affected seemed to have pushed for change, achieved it, and felt good about it. Then, days later, Trader Joe's released yet another statement, this one with a very different tone. "We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist," it posted on the website. "Trader Joes does not make decisions based on petitions...We thought then — and still do — that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures." Now, the battle continues...
Trader Joe's Remains On The Offensive
The woman who started the petition, Briones Beddell, felt shocked by Trader Joe's latest statement. Especially after it had gained 5,000 signatures! "It seems to be this complete reversal of their previous commitment to removing names from international foods that the corporation themselves have described as not being conducive to creating a welcoming customer experience," she said.
"It's intended to allow the consumer to build up this perceived sophistication through their knowledge of worldliness through their choice of food," Beddell continued. "But it's not a cultural celebration or representation. This is exoticism. These brands are shells of the cultures they represent."
Even stranger, Trader Joe's has changed titles in the past! Notably, the company changed Arabian Joe's and Armenian Joe's after requests from those communities. Now, only time will tell if Trader Joe's will change the other names. Beddell does not feel as though she's lost, though. At least not yet. "I've just been really grateful that this has sparked as many conversations as it has," she said. "I hope in any future endeavors I can act as a facilitator so people can make up own minds about what is right."