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Akron Milling Company

National companies who sold their products at grocery stores had to compete with each other for customer business and loyalty. Grocers retrieved the new packaged goods, just as they had bulk items, for their patrons throughout this period (self-service did not begin until the twentieth century). Because of this continued practice of one-on-one assistance, they had the ability to recommend certain brands to consumers.

Akron Milling Company (Akron, OH).
AMC Perfect Cereals, c. 1870–1900.
Chromolithographed trade card,
(5 7/8 x 3 3/8 in).
Printed by M. M. & O. Lith., New York.

This trade card shows a handsome grocer gesturing toward a wall of packaged A. M. C. (Akron Milling Company) Perfect Cereals. The viewer can deduce that he is advising his customer and her daughter to try a few boxes, which is exactly what the manufacturer hoped would happen in reality.

Other strategies used by companies to ensure that consumers purchased their brand included instructing people to refuse to patronize stores that did not sell their products and warning buyers about grocers’ endeavors to push inferior goods to make a larger profit. A. M. C.’s tactic of courting the grocer, who gave out the company’s trade cards, by showing that his opinion mattered to customers was probably the shrewdest option.



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