Kroger is keeping more than just the grocery aisle fresh. This week, the 136-year-old grocery chain is debuting branding that includes an updated logo, new tagline and accompanying marketing campaign. The work is Cincinnati-based Kroger’s first from DDB New York, which it appointed its first creative agency of record in July following a five-month search.
“In today’s world, the reality is that to cut through, we have to have a clear point of view and we have to tell our story in a way customers get,” says Mandy Rassi VP of marketing at Kroger, noting that Kroger has a rich history that includes creating the grocery category, “but that story wasn’t landing with customers.” She says such shoppers couldn’t “articulate what Kroger stands for.”
The rebranding includes a universal tagline, “Fresh for everyone,” that will roll out across Kroger’s namesake and roughly 20 other brands, such as Fred Meyer and Harris Teeter. The new logo, an evolution of the previous mark that still highlights the “k” and “g” in the Kroger name, will also include the tagline in some iterations.
To spread the word, Kroger will push a marketing campaign that features “Kroji” animated emoji-type characters. In one 30-second anthem spot, a voiceover talks about the different types of people who enjoy fresh food, people like amateur chefs, salad lovers, midnight snackers and brown baggers. The campaign will include national TV, in-store marketing, radio, digital, print, social media, podcasts and out-of-home.
The push comes at a time when competition is heating up in the grocery category. In recent years, both Target and Walmart have ramped up their food offerings in an attempt to position their brands as “every stores” for all of shoppers’ needs. Amazon, with its Whole Foods and Amazon Pantry divisions, has also leaned heavily into the space. According to a recent Future of Food Retailing Report from Inmar, a data company, sales for the traditional grocery channel were down 1.1 percent to $547.6 billion in the U.S. last year, compared with 2017.
Kroger has been holding its own, however. The chain commanded 16 percent market share of the supermarket category in 2018, up slightly from its 14 percent share in 2013, according to Euromonitor. For the second quarter of this year, Kroger’s most recent, sales were $28.2 billion, up nearly 1 percent from the year-earlier period.
The retailer had previously produced all of its creative advertising internally, but decided to work with an external agency earlier this year in order to better communicate some of the recent changes at the brand, Rassi says. Two years ago, the company unveiled Restock Kroger, a store transformation strategy designed to improve the brand experience for customers to help Kroger compete. On Tuesday, at the brand’s annual Investor Day, executives spoke about the momentum of the program, which includes more private-label brands. Kroger has grown its owned-brands portfolio from $15 billion in 2011 to roughly $22 billion in 2018. Last year, Kroger generated $121.2 billion in annual sales.