The marketing theories put forward by the three experts have been the practice of retailers for many years, even though many people were unaware of the practices (Duhigg 209). The revelation by Duhigg of the data mining practice by retail giant Target opened a can of worms for many retailers, despite them arguing that they were just bent on reaching their clients rather than claims of digging into customer privacy.
As seen in his book, Duhigg suggests that the sanctioning of such practices by the retailers is a common practice and seems acceptable as long as the information is offered freely and is used for marketing purposes only.
The availability of mobile devices with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity has made accessing data from a person’s device very easy if they have turned it on, as Morisson writes in her article (Morrison). The purpose of a mobile phone is to enable its user to be accessible all the time. Therefore, it makes no sense to switch it off to avoid data being collected by remote sensors installed in stores (Lee, Meyer, and Smith 147). Margo’s theories of why people buy things we do not need an explanation why supermarket stores stock similar products that serve the same needs on the same shelves because they know how human beings are controlled by emotions (Morisson). When a customer feels the need for a commodity, they will most likely buy it not because it will serve any particular purpose but merely to fit in a specific social circle where such a person identifies (Margo).
My Retail Store of Choice: Kroger Supermarkets
This retail giant has been my favorite store for many years. The first time I stepped into their luxurious shops, I was awed by the ambiance of the place, with long, spacious, and well-lit aisles. This retail giant impressed my design instincts. I instantly realized one simple fact; this chain’s reason is clocking a century and remaining strong was majorly the first impression on every new customer that the décor present here painted of the place. Clean and smelling fresh, Kroger’s grocery filled shelves leave one spoilt for choice. The friendly staff is eager to assist customers in finding what they are looking for, and even go the extra length to pick the item one is searching for.
The sumptuous bread and cakes displayed on the glass-covered cabinets make the nostrils ache for a lot more scent to evoke that satisfying feeling even when the cakes are safely inside their closets. Chocolates, candy, and waffles ‘greet’ one and make a person salivate silently immediately one step into the shops. Deep inside, the pleasant French fries smell wafts through the air, making one hungrier than normal even when your doctor advises you to refrain from sugars or dieting to clear the mid-section fat bumps.
Kroger displays various products on the online platform ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, electronics, home appliances, general groceries, grains, toys, and thousands of other products. When one orders a product, the spelled-out terms make the store’s sale pages easy to navigate, and ordering for a product proves an easy task that takes only a few minutes. Their site is fast and does not suffer break downs as is common with many online sales sites from other retailers I have purchased products from.
Methods of Marketing utilized by Kroger Supermarkets
In-store Marketing Style
Kroger has effectively embraced old school marketing methods to woo customers and tempt their longing for fast-foods and sugary drinks, both carbonated and non-carbonated, and technology to serve customers quickly and reach them wherever they may be. The fast foods section is one area a customer can never fail to notice, even in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic when people visit the store with their masks on.
The tasty frying potatoes in the kitchen section are well situated in an area where each would-be shopper must pass through as they make their way into the shop. Customers who love to pop into a store and check the selections available even without purchasing anything may be tempted to sit down and take a bite from the large selection of large portions of offerings available (Duhigg 208). The stores have utilized the power of fried foods to make customers dine in their beautifully designed eateries, an experience one will long to repeat again and again.
The cool music drifting from the speakers offers a breezy feeling when shopping. I often find myself singing along silently to the different collection of music available throughout the day. Candy and sodas, energy drinks and chocolate, jewelry, and watches are strategically placed immediately one enters the store just near the tellers. The assistants behind the counters seem seductive enough to woo one to ask for the price of a watch even when yours is a few months old (Morisson).
The age-old stationing of beautiful ladies on counters offering male-centered goods is applied at Kroger’s, with the ever-smiling young women ready to assist any customer. Inside the pharmacy section, attendants are warm, friendly, and exhibit a professional touch whenever one enquires about any product. Their focus is centered in offering personalized services and understand the buyer better, making a person silently mutter to yourself that the next time you need to buy drugs, Kroger is the place to be.
Kroger’s online marketing strategy has impressed me. The loyalty program enables the supermarket chain to send new offerings and discounted sales to customers registered under the program. The details available in the registration form a very vital and detailed data bank the retail chain utilizes. When I first started receiving mail from them during various seasons of the year, with offers of goods I periodically purchased from them, I was a bit confused about how they could gain a good grasp of my spending patterns without knowing me personally (Morisson).
A few staff members who are my friends were my first suspects when I sought to unravel the mystery behind Kroger becoming a kind of buddy (Duhigg 213). The most perplexing moment was when the retailer sends me a birthday message on my Facebook account. Then, I knew Kroger was more than a supermarket but a sort of acquaintance. Initially incensed by their privacy breach, I chose to accept it and move on because the online space is laden with data miners who will stop at nothing to gain details to sell to their clients. I am sure Kroger does that too.
My preferred retailer does many electronic sales promotions on email marketing when one’s address is known to them. For instance, their extensive email campaign advising customers to utilize the online shopping experience effectively addresses the COVID-19 menace. In March, when the pandemic was increasingly becoming a major public health concern, Kroger’s CEO sent a message to customers informing them of the need to offer safe shopping experiences. He also urged customers to purchase fewer sanitary items to ensure every shopper was equipped with cleaning materials to ensure high hygienic standards are maintained and keep the Kroger customer safe for another shopping experience.
Such emails evoke a feeling of being one big family that cares for one another. The store’s tendency to send most emails on Fridays seems to target weekend shopping when most stores witness high turn-out of shoppers with more time to spare; hence, the probability of having dinner in the in-store food outlets. Since it is the eve of a weekend, Friday offers a relaxed shopping experience because most people are highly likely to buy the following week’s groceries immediately after leaving their workplaces and relaxing at home on Saturdays and Sundays or attend to private matters.
Kroger’s Home Delivery
The Kroger delivery network is an effective and time-saving exercise, with the retailer delivering to customers at a fee of $9 only. Considering the amount of time one spends at the till when the stores are full and queuing is inevitable, such a low amount is worth the freedom of staying at home and attending to other personal matters or ordering one’s groceries while in the office. Having them delivered and immediately a customer is done with work, they save time by just driving home with a groceries supply for the week. The adoption of mobile devices enables shopping to be done online, bringing much-needed impetus. It ensures a customer could browse through different offers, make their choice, and order on the same platform. The smartphone experience is one area tech-savvy Millenials love to experience with and has been utilized by Kroger for better shopping experiences.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This supermarket chain has embraced artificial intelligence in its stores to address the impacts of COVID-19 on eating out. The AI named Chefbot uses photos of food ingredients sent to it by customers to come up with recipes. This technology aims to reduce the number of diners frequenting the store’s eateries to observe regulations on crowding and social distancing. The realization that a customer may need to prepare a meal at home and lacks the skills to do it has necessitated the need to launch this technology. The groceries needed to prepare the meal will, most likely, have been bought from the store, or the customer may be planning to order them and have them delivered to their premises, creating a sale for Kroger.
Kroger Mobile Application
The Kroger mobile app offers a myriad of choices to customers who download it on their mobile devices. Unbeknown to them, the choicest selection of discounted sales options and offers allows the app to mine data used to advance their customer experiences. Though not bad, most people feel unsettled knowing that the app they have on their phones delivers personal information to their retailer of choice without their consent (Morisson). The terms one is requested to read before downloading an app are long, legal jargon-filled documents very few people care to go through.
After all, the enticing goodies and discounts available to Kroger’s customers who use their mobile app are irresistible to most young people who love discovering technology. The data miners’ access is almost always open to other vendors and companies one has accounts with. In that case, if all they need the data for is to market their stuff to an individual, then there is no harm (Margo; Morisson). The simple marketing emails sent to their customers, reminding them of discounted sales and proposing items they think the customer may be interested in buying are good strategies. It breeds a sense of loyalty to a retailer if messages depict a caring attitude that is less invasive on the customer’s private life.
For example, a shopper purchases goods associated with a wedding, and the store follows the following week with a message in their inbox congratulating them on their happy life after. This conduct makes a shopper feel wanted, recognized, and valued by their retailer more than they would like to know how the retailer knew about their upcoming wedding. The friendly nature of this communication style builds strong customer-retailer bonds that remain for long periods (Duhigg 215). The customer could email back their reservations when dissatisfied with a service or goods from the store and probably receive a replacement and an apology message, thereby cementing the existing ties.
The use of Facebook advertisements from a store to market their offers is not a bad move. Kroger wishing a customer a happy birthday, alongside offers of assorted goods and invitations to dine at their eateries, could be a good move. The supermarket could create a new market for its restaurants by offering discounts to the birthday party-goers if they dine at their in-store eatery, where people holding parties could eat together and receive discounts. This could prove to be an untapped market with good returns, owing to Americans’ party-going nature and their love for celebrating anniversaries and milestones in life. If they could decide to offer discounts to the person celebrating the event and several of his friends, they could create a culture and build on it to make more sales by providing small price reductions.
On the other hand, caution is required to avoid customers feeling invaded upon their privacy, as is the case with Target customers who felt the need to seek legal redress to stop their retailer from using their data to market its products (Culnan & Williams 665; Duhigg 222). Likewise, the sending of many messages could prove annoying and even irritating. Customers could choose to block any more emails and messages on their social media pages and accounts in protest and make the marketing strategy fail to achieve its objective (Duhigg 218). Emails and texts should be regulated and send only during the day and on special occasions in the case of holidays when most people are planning to shop for particular items needed in the celebration of the same. Such a move will be understandable; the intended customer will treat the promotional message as usual and customary as has been the tradition even before electronic messaging was invented and adopted by all people.
Electronic marketing is the most effective advertising method these days. It allows sending information at the touch of a button to millions of the intended receipts at almost no cost. Facebook ads and e-mails prices are negligible if one considers the number of people they can reach instantly. The adoption of technology by all industry sectors has its pros and cons, even though the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. By following customer trends and needs, companies can offer personalized goods and services. In that case, they can increase productivity and efficiency as they produce what the customer exactly wants and not what the producer thinks they want. Responsible use of technology should be encouraged, and companies in possession of customer data should exercise responsibility. They should not divulge it to third parties to avoid misuse and engagement in criminal activities.
Culnan, Mary J., and Cynthia Clark Williams. “How ethics can enhance organizational privacy: Lessons from choicepoint and TJX data breaches.” Mis Quarterly (2009): 673-687.
Duhigg, Charles, “The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”, Toronto, Anchor Canada, 2012.
Lee, Lorraine.Tracy Meyer, and Jeffrey S. Smith. “Reinventing the customer experience: Technology and the service marketing mix”. Service Management. Springer, New York, NY, 2012. 143-160.
Margo, Aaron, Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need,October 9, 2016, Medium.
Morisson, Sara, Why You See Online Ads For Stuff You Buy In the Real World, January 29, 2020, Vox Media7 Likes