Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.
Grocery shopping is not my favorite task. Maybe it’s the abundance of fluorescent lighting typical of grocery stores or the repetitive nature of the weekly chore. Whatever the reasons, I’ve found one store nearby that has neutralized these negatives and has turned the chore into an enjoyable experience.
With its soothing classical music, artistic spot lighting, and funky double-decker basket carts, The Fresh Market has transformed grocery shopping from humdrum to enchanting. The use of sensory stimulation envelops shoppers in a pampered cocoon where we can purchase specialty produce, organic dairy products, and freshly made sushi. It’s easy to navigate, not too big, and, best of all, they have food samples every day.
This is more than just a shopping experience. It’s like going to a spa. You walk in weary and rushed, and then the music, lighting, and beautiful food displays go to work on your senses, easing you into a calmer state of mind. You walk out with a basket full of goods, feeling better than when you entered, despite the fact that your one basket of peace-and-calm was pricier than you’d dare pay anywhere else.
I know this firsthand, as I’ve made The Fresh Market a place I stop a few times each month to grab a few select items I can’t get at my usual supermarket. I’m still trying to wrap my marketer’s brain and my Christian mindset around this shopping phenomenon I’ve succumbed to.
From a marketing perspective, The Fresh Market has done an exquisite job crafting a shopping experience that engages all the senses and shifts the utilitarian task of procuring food into an experiential treat. It fills the market gap for an upscale grocer that offers something more than aisles and aisles of 2-for-1 deals. And people love it. I love it. That’s why it has been so successful and why its doors stay open.
But when I move from marketing mindset to Christian worldview, I wonder if being pampered while grocery shopping is such a good thing. It’s certainly not necessary, as food is available at regular supermarkets as well as discount super centers.
Maybe it’s not so bad, if I can remember what a luxurious treat it is to have plenty of food available because I live in a country without famine or shortages. I think my biggest fear is that I would become accustomed to this high level of service, selection, and ambience—so accustomed that I would come to expect it and assume I deserve it. I want to guard my heart against that expectation, being grateful for God’s provision no matter how it is packaged.