Recently I waited in ridiculous line for the hottest opening in Manhattan. A new musical? Nope. A SOHO gallery? Guess again. A Barney's Co-op sale? I don't think so....
As embarrassing as it is to admit, I was actually waiting to be let in to the new Trader Joe's on Union Square. For those unfamiliar with the state of grocery stores in Manhattan, we are in the midst of a brutal war. Chain markets, upscale purveyors of organic goods and even the Green Markets have engaged in a fierce battle for customers. The irony, of course, is the fact that most New Yorkers don't even know how to turn on their oven.
It was mid-2005 when a few blogs broke the news of a new grocery shopping option a block away from Whole Foods and the Union Square Green Market, not to mention countless grocery stores that have since folded. I followed the story on Chowhound, Gawker and Curbed, not to mention the print dailies and weeklies.
And of course, there was word-of-mouth. Foodies relished in endless conversation on when Trader Joe's was opening, what one could find there, and how our shopping patterns would be forever changed. Trader Joe's arrival was going to save us all from grocery purgatory, bringing us to culinary salvation.
Once inside the store, I was crushed. Perhaps I arrived too late, but the produce was marginal, the shelves looked ransacked, and the cashier charged me $70 for some avocados, instead of $7. Friends recounted similar stories, and suddenly the year of spin seemed silly, if not an outright waste of marketing dollars.
The double-edged sword of spin should be wielded wisely, less it cut both ways. While it can be most powerful in creating awareness, setting unrealistic expectations can be a marketer's fatal mistake.
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