Are consumers interested in Kroger’s stories?

Discussion
Source: Kroger
Apr 03, 2017
Tom Ryan

Kroger has introduced a website dedicated to sharing stories to reinforce its value — and values — to both customers and associates.

The site, www.krogerstories.com, will share “stories about Kroger’s great people, innovative projects, and the ideas that are changing the way we eat, drink, and think about food.” Produced by both freelancers and Kroger associates, the multi-media site will feature long and short-form written content as well as video and photographic storytelling.

“We believe customers, associates and other stakeholders are increasingly making decisions about where to shop, where to work, and who shares their values based on how well they understand the ways a company makes a difference for their people, communities and the planet,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs. “And in this equation, we believe that stories — credible, authentic, human stories — matter more than perhaps anything else.”

Kroger begins with a sizable potential built-in audience, with 8.5 million customers and 443,000 associates who shop or serve in its 2,796 stores under a variety of local banner names.

Some current stories focus on its in-store murals, sustainable seafood program and food-styling photo process. The site is also featuring profiles on Murray Cheese, its international foods brand, Hemisfares, and the retirement of its longest-serving associate.

Keith Dailey, senior director, external affairs at Kroger, told Supermarket News, “What I think is most interesting about a platform like this is that the stories will either perform or they won’t based on whether they’re a compelling story or not, and so for us, the simplest measure of success is, are people reading it and are they engaging with it, learning something new that perhaps didn’t realize.”

By comparison, Whole Foods’ “Whole Story” blog features articles on food inspiration.

The “Walmart Today” blog seems similar to Krogerstories.com, with a mix of articles on innovation, heritage, employee opportunities and U.S. manufacturing to appeal to customers and staff. Target has two blogs — “A Bullseye View,” aimed more at consumers and “Pulse,” positioned for employees.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are blogs created by retailers to highlight new initiatives and corporate values important for connecting with consumers and associates? Do you see this type of communication becoming more important or less in the years ahead?

Braintrust
"A nice idea to keep the most extreme enthusiasts loyal. But are extreme loyalists the group you need to influence?"
"By the same token, suppliers should be part of that storytelling..."
"The marketing world is too often lost in mythologies about brand. And this effort seems particularly lost."

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17 Comments on "Are consumers interested in Kroger’s stories?"

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Tom Dougherty
BrainTrust

It is a loyalty strategy. NOT a conversion strategy. No one who is not published on the blog itself or employed by Kroger will ever read it.

A nice idea to keep the most extreme enthusiasts loyal. But are extreme loyalists the group you need to influence?

Susan O'Neal
BrainTrust
5 months 16 days ago

Our industry is rife with mistrust and disloyalty. The best, most fertile ground for rebuilding that trust is the relationship between a consumer and their preferred retailer. Blogs and other forms of authentic, mutually-chosen and mutually-beneficial dialogue are promising places to start.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Blogs that highlight corporate values and new initiatives can create valuable touchstones with consumers and should be pursued once retailers have basic social media covered (basic social media being listening and responding to customer inquiries).

Phil Masiello
BrainTrust

Relevant content to engage your customers is always a good idea. Consumers do not want you to “sell” them. They want you to provide them with reasons they should buy from you. What is the solution your company provides for their problems? I believe in content done the correct way.

However, I am confused by this effort. Whole Foods, Whole Story, which you mentioned, is a blog on the Whole Foods website. It is integrated into the website experience. Wegmans also has stories about their product and lifestyle and it is part of their main website. This effort by Kroger is confusing. Having your customers go to a different website to access your blog content is obviously put together by a group that does not understand how and why people use content-driven sites. Also, this particular site has zero traffic so far.

All I can think is that the purpose of this site is to drive views. Once they have the views, they will try to extract advertising revenue by featuring native product ads by their suppliers.

Dave Nixon
Guest
Dave Nixon
5 months 16 days ago

I have to agree with you, Phil. Great intent to combat PR from so many other sources, and Kroger has infamously been fairly silent about some of the great things they do in the industry, but a separate website instead of integration with their banner site? Disconnected channels is a strange approach.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Brands have to tell their story, sell their story and hopefully involve their customers in that story. It adds character and personality where otherwise they are simply products for purchase. By the same token, suppliers should be part of that storytelling which provides the opportunity to feature the good news of sourcing, features and benefits. Proclamations of being new and improved will only go so far and in our world where consumers are driven by hopes and aspirations, positioning brand attributes in a world-worthy context serves the needs of all.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Brand storytelling is a powerful art form and is an imperative element in reaching your shoppers. Storytelling is at the heart of human communication — and has been since we scrawled with charcoal on cave walls. It must be real, authentic and meaningful to connect emotionally with your audience. The challenges are how and why your story matters and the delivery. Simply catering to your devoted and loyal shoppers may not resonate as a separate blog entry. Sharing stories on how your brand helps its shoppers will be read if authored and delivered properly.

David Livingston
Guest
5 months 16 days ago

The stories, blogs and commercials are just manufactured facades. Like the train next to the house, consumers eventually will tune it out. Today we are bombarded with so much fake news and reality TV that educated consumers assume everything is scripted in order to make a sale. In the future this type of communication will be less important and replaced by newly-invented forms of media.

Tom Erskine
BrainTrust
5 months 16 days ago

Creating an authentic dialog with associates, customers and the broader community is critical. But beware, the new generation of Millennial customers can smell inauthenticity from miles away. I wonder whether the strategic approach being taken by Kroger to build a centralized, HQ-led vehicle for communication is the correct one, or whether a localized, store-driven approach would be more effective. The current content has the feel of an in-flight magazine.

Ross Ely
BrainTrust

The conversation should be about consumers and what they can do with Kroger’s products and services. It’s unclear that shoppers will be interested in stories about Kroger itself. The company’s values and initiatives should be reflected in its products and services to shoppers rather than a blog that self-celebrates its own culture.

Tom Brown
Guest
5 months 16 days ago

This is content marketing 101. Links to and from krogers.com with relevant content are Google’s number one and number two ranking signals. Anyone who doesn’t understand this should consult with a professional.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Definitely an example of “can’t help but won’t hurt” marketing. I can’t see these as ever being important — I mean how many people really have the time or interest to learn about a company’s culture (except for something like a school project or an occasional bout of curiosity)? But then what reason can there be for not having something along those lines on one’s web site?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

The marketing world is too often lost in mythologies about brand. And this effort seems particularly lost.

Let’s make the first, most important, observation: “Kroger” is not the consumer brand. In most areas, Kroger is a parent brand that consumers barely know (or care) exists. Where does the consumer shop? King Soopers, Fred Meyer, etc. It’s concerning that the PR team at Kroger misses this truth about the real world of their customers.

And then the idea of stories…. It’s hard to imagine that paid promotional stories put forth on a Kroger blog are stories that will influence consumers.

I”m always saddened when I see companies waste time on efforts like these, because usually a public effort like this reflects a deeper error in the company understanding of how brands work for consumers.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is a continually growing trend by brands to humanize themselves in the eyes of their customers. People like to buy from people, not faceless brands. Blogs like this are an effort to foster a sense of community between the brand and it’s customers, leaving customers feeling that they are working together towards a common goal — not that a brand is simply tying to sell them something.

Do customers really read these? I think so. I also think if we measure this there will be a generational gap in audience. The metrics would be interesting to see! Much like product reviews, I think this will be a growing trend by brands who want to differentiate themselves in an ever crowded marketplace.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Blogs and other social media forums that share insights about the brand and its products are a great way to further connect with consumers and associates. Looking behind the scenes at retail chains personalizes and humanizes the brand to create an emotional connection with consumers. This personalization will resonate most with loyal fans and brand enthusiasts.

The forums that encourage dialog and customer testimonials and experiences (including photos and videos) will further support the personalization of the brand. With the advent of social media, consumers thrive on social interactions and are becoming more interactive with the brands they “like” of “follow.” Brands that are most aligned with this approach are in the retail segments that have frequent shoppers and/or have products that consumers are very passionate about.

Geoffrey Ingall
Guest
5 months 15 days ago

I don’t know how many new websites or blogs come on line each week, but I suspect it’s an awful lot. The question that everyone who posts one needs to ask themselves is, what is my audience already reading and is my site more compelling? More compelling than a sports blog, or a Kardashian story, or a Trump tweet, or…. I think you get my drift.

As previous comments say, these things are read by true-believers and nobody much else. And probably only once.

Don’t waste your money; focus on telling people how they benefit from shopping you and follow it up in store. Keep the good guy stories for the annual get-together.

Scott Magids
BrainTrust
5 months 15 days ago

Content marketing and brand journalism are growing in importance for retailers anxious to make a connection and communicate their brand values to consumers. Slick content written by the marketing department has a place, but user-generated content from real people is the best way to build up a meaningful connection with people. The articles on Krogerstories.com go a long way towards accomplishing that emotional connection retailers want, and Kroger’s challenge now is to actually get some value from these stories. It’s a great start, but I agree with some of the other commenters here that the best way to approach user-generated content and brand journalism is to incorporate it with the primary website, maybe featuring some of the more compelling stories on the main Kroger.com site. That said, this type of content marketing will be more important to major brands in the coming years, and other retailers are already starting to get on the bandwagon. It’s going to be a must-have.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"A nice idea to keep the most extreme enthusiasts loyal. But are extreme loyalists the group you need to influence?"
"By the same token, suppliers should be part of that storytelling..."
"The marketing world is too often lost in mythologies about brand. And this effort seems particularly lost."

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