We used to do our grocery shopping exclusively at the Meijer located in Northville, MI until about a month ago when their mechanical pony named “Sandy” broke.
Sandy has been the mascot at all 185+ Meijer grocery stores for over 30 years, she even has her own facebook page .
If she goes missing or breaks down every kid knows it.
So does every parent, which is where my 3 yr old daughter D. enters the picture.
VOC: When expectations meet disappointment
When I enter a Meijer there is the customer expectation on my part that all the items I need will be in stock.
For D. the expectation is that she is going to:
- visit the fish in the tank
- see the lobsters who have just arrived from a long flight from Nova Scotia and are resting (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)
- take a ride on Sandy for the price of 1 cent
If any of these things don’t happen she doesn’t cry or throw a fit but from a customer standpoint there is disappointment…an expectation unfulfilled. As a parent I try to eliminate these as much as possible.
If we had to go to that Meijer I would let her know that “Sandy might not be fixed so we might not go on a ride today”. Response “You can fix it Daddy”.
Meijer is a fun place for my daughter.
Meijer isn’t just a grocery store to my daughter, it’s a destination spot. Some people quest to IKEA for meatballs while we go to a place with a pony ride.
When the pony was removed from the equation it didn’t become just another grocery store …it became the store that took something away from her.
Don't give your customer a reason to go someplace else.
Recently we’ve been shopping at the Meijer in Livonia, MI because they have a working Sandy, however it is a little more inconvenient for us because of the distance.
Due to the inconvenience we also found ourselves going into closer stores like Kroger, Heartland Market, Busch’s, Spartan Foods and even Wal-Mart on occasion. This has given us an opportunity to compare prices and try new store brands.
We still like Meijer the most and have no intention of boycotting it or anything silly like that however we have discovered that we like the taste of some store brand items at other places more than Meijer.
All because of a broken pony shifting my shopping habits, Meijer has probably lost 10% - 15% of my dollars spent on a monthly basis.
When Sandy gets fixed we’ll be heading back to our regular Meijer but the damage is done. I like Kroger cottage cheese better.
On a side note I did send the Meijer Director of Public Relations an e-mail about the broken pony. (Frank Guglielmi - firstname.lastname@example.org) The very same day I received a call from the Northville, MI location that they have called to get Sandy repaired and they will inform me when it’s done. As of yesterday Sandy has been removed for repairs.
Update: On Feb 4th, 2011 I recieved a call from Pat Fuller, the store director at the Northville Meijer, and Sandy is back and operational. Thank you Pat!!