Friday, December 18, 2020 (13 days remaining in 2020)
A Costco customer introduced himself to me as Scott. He purchased electrolyte and energy products and explained that he’s an extreme bicyclist who annually rides a couple of California courses. One is “the death ride”, a timed race through 129 miles of “California Alps”. Another he rides (I forget its name) covers more miles, is more difficult. Scott seemed happy, pumped, and about to start preparing for the 2021 competitions.
In our local Costco where I work, I’m on the lookout for interesting customers. It’s easy to spot those in fit-condition and they’re inspiring. I peer into their carts carrying “Scott-like” endurance essentials, and other items trending toward high protein, low sugar products. Increasingly, carts carry plant-based foods, a preference-trend Costco has noticed. Our store has begun stocking vegan cheese, vegetable-olive oil butter, and increasingly more products plant-based. I’ve tried many new ones and they taste good enough to swing an experimenter to a vegan perspective.
Having worked in our Costco since 2007, I’ve witnessed changing food-buying trends. Back when I started, most customers (long-time locals and often farmers and ranchers) were enthusiastic meat and potato eaters. This Costco’s food selections noticeably began expanding when first we demonstrated a new product, humus. Most customers claimed intensely to dislike humus, mispronounced the name, and after tasting just turned up their noses. I wasn’t happy having to try promoting humus. Eventually that changed, and one began seeing humus in shopping carts. As varieties expanded, many formerly humus-resistant customers willingly sampled and purchased.
That’s when first I understood the power of effective marketing in an unreceptive environment. That’s when first I recognized how Costco and similarly-aware suppliers influence shopper preferences toward differing product lines.
Athletically-aware Central Oregon is receptive to increased opportunities to purchase plant-based and vegan-oriented foods. As a sample-server, I notice fewer customers refusing to consider anything but meat and potatoes. But its hard to change old habits and some folks stand firmly by theirs. But today, even carts pushed by long time farmers and ranchers might contain alternatives to meat, because they taste like products they’re representing and promoted as healthier.
My new friend, Scott, after explaining why he buys electrolytes and energy products disappeared to continue shopping Now, I’m curious about the products that might have landed in his cart. He promised to return and update me on his progress in preparing for rides. I’ll take the opportunity to ask about his various routine purchases. Maybe I’ll learn, again from a customer, more about healthy-eating.
Dear Friends: As with other shoppers, information and experience alter my preferences. Diana