There’s a lot of buzz in the grocery industry these days. While most of it is focused on organic options, specialty markets, and boutique shopping, Ronn Torossian says at least one major national chain is reaping the benefits of changing consumer tastes.
It may sound incredible, but a massive grocery retailer has managed to continuously pivot in place to serve its customers despite both its lumbering size and commitment to Thinking Like a Big Company. So, while Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods get all the social media love, Kroger continues to thrive in a marketplace that is threatening to leave big, traditional stores behind. How much is Kroger succeeding? How about 45 straight quarters of solid, comparable profit?
How is this possible when so many other chains are floundering? Well, Kroger has tapped a well similar to another popular region grocery chain – Publix. By implanting excellent customer service and quality, clean stores, – not to mention customer loyalty perks – Kroger is succeeding where other chains are dying off or being starved out by Walmart.
Something else both Kroger and Publix do well? A wide selection of quality, affordable private label products as well as an expanding organic selection. Kroger may not be able to compete with All Crunchy All the Time shoppers, but it’s known to offer plenty of “healthier” selections for the average shopper. This is a vital component of grocery success.
There is no doubt the market is changing. Both Millennials and Boomers are gravitating toward healthier meal options. This encompasses both the biggest and one of the fastest growing market segments. Even GenX is beginning to shift more toward better food choices, including choices for their kids. And while specialty stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are enticing to Millennials who are riding the organic trend as well as Boomers who are willing to pay more for better quality, selection and service still matter to grocery shoppers. That was the leverage point on which both Kroger and Publix grabbed hold of. Now, both chains are growing while their former competitors are hemorrhaging profit and closing stores.
The lesson? No matter what happens in your market, good service always sells. If you must shift or change, never forget that.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations and founder of the Ronn Torossian Foundation.