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Culture of innovation transforms Kroger

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At the beginning of the month, Kroger Co. unveiled a redesigned corporate logo intended to impart a contemporary look and feel to the supermarket operator’s iconic brand. Complemented by the tagline “Fresh for Everyone,” the new logo is the tip of the spear in a multimedia brand transformation campaign whose aim is to express Kroger’s appreciation for its customers and associates, and tout its food-first culture and heritage as one of the nation’s leading grocers.

“Kroger believes that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable and delicious food, no matter who you are, where you shop or what you like to eat,” says executive vice president and chief operating officer Mike Donnelly. “Kroger’s winning combination of assets puts our team in a unique position to deliver fresh — for everyone.”

The campaign is especially noteworthy because it promotes a brand that has, indeed, evolved considerably in recent years. All too often, consumers discover that, to borrow a phrase from Gertrude Stein, there’s no there there when they see what’s behind an eye-catching marketing program. Kroger is different.

Finding itself in the midst of a rapidly changing grocery market, one in which the tried-and-true methods that had sustained it for decades started to appear outmoded, the company two years ago launched Restock Kroger. Built around four pillars — redefining the food and grocery customer experience; expanding partnerships to create customer value; developing talent; and living Kroger’s purpose — the initiative was designed to sharpen the company’s competitive edge as it confronted an unprecedented number of retailers vying for consumers’ food and beverage dollars, and e-commerce and digital technology posed a challenge to the basic grocery paradigm.

Restock Kroger has, by and large, succeeded, putting a traditional supermarketer on the fast track to becoming an omnichannel powerhouse. Management reaffirmed the strategy at Kroger’s investor conference in early November, citing renewed momentum in its core business and the ongoing development of other sources of revenue and profits.

The impressive transformation sits atop an even more fundamental shift. Until quite recently, Kroger was known for its conservatism; today the company’s hallmark is innovation. With all they have accomplished, chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen, Donnelly and their colleagues should perhaps be most proud of the speed and effectiveness with which they changed the corporate culture.


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