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Kroger’s mobile strategy stands out with focus on loyalty, personalized coupons

January 10, 2014

Kroger's mobile app

Kroger’s multi-faceted application that plays up rewards, locations and customized offers is proving to be effective in targeting moms and ultimately driving in-store traffic.

A new report from Placed finds that during the month of November, the grocery store chain was visited by more smartphone-owning moms than any other grocery chain. With moms increasingly enlisting their mobile devices to help plan meals and grocery lists, store and redeem coupons, as well as support their visits to stores, Kroger is leading other grocery stores in delivering services that meet this important segment’s needs.  

“Kroger, Safeway and Aldi make up the largest grocery stores in the United States based on foot traffic, so it isn’t a surprise that rank carries over for moms,” said David Shim, CEO/founder of Placed, Seattle.

“These most trafficked grocers are investing in mobile, with four-star apps on Android and iOS, which is simplifying and improving the shopping experience for smartphone moms,” he said.

“To contrast the three largest grocers, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s significantly under index for moms, and when you look at the app experiences, you see no apps [or] limited apps.”

Bulking up on mobile
Approximately 13.7 percent of United States smartphone-owning mothers visited Kroger in November. This is partly because of the resources that the grocery chain has poured into developing a comprehensive mobile app that drives engagement outside of the actual bricks-and-mortar location.

Kroger’s mobile app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

The app lets consumers create an account that can be used to access digital coupons, refill prescriptions and manage their fuel points at gas stations.

The app also includes a store locator and mobile-exclusive promotions.

Last May, Kroger updated its app so that shoppers could easily access their loyalty information (see story).

During Kroger’s second-quarter earning results call in September, the grocery chain played up digital in helping the brand drive revenue.

At the time of the company’s Q2 results call, Kroger claimed that its app was in the top 2 percent of most downloaded apps in Apple’s App Store.

Kroger’s mobile app

Shopping guide
Placed’s findings are based on a survey of 5,221 U.S. smartphone females with children.

The No. 2 most-visited grocer was Aldi. However, the foot traffic to Aldi locations was less than half of the traffic that Kroger generated.

During November, a little less than 6 percent of moms visited a Safeway or Publix location, and slightly more than 4 percent of moms went to either a Food Lion or Albertson’s store.

Placed claims that both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods overindex when it comes to female shoppers without children.

However, neither of these chains fare well when it comes to deal-seeking moms. Moms were 26 percent less likely to visit Trader Joe’s than the typical consumer and were 41 percent less likely to visit a Whole Foods location.

Part of the reason why Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods may not appeal to moms is the fact that neither grocery store has a branded, couponing app.

For example, Trader Joe’s is incorporated into several third-party coupon and store locator apps, but the chain does not have its own stand-alone app.

On the other hand, Whole Foods has a number of different apps for recipes and games, but does not offer a couponing app.

Whole Foods’ recipe app

Browsing habits
The grocery store preferences directly correlate to the study’s findings on how moms use their mobile devices to access coupons.

Moms were 11 percent more likely to access coupons on their smartphones prior to going to the store than while in a grocery store. This indicates that the biggest opportunity for CPG brands and grocery stores is actually outside of the store when moms are planning their meals and shopping lists.

Making lists, finding coupons, product research and looking up recipes were all top uses for moms on mobile devices.

About 29 percent of moms surveyed said that they visited a coupon site or grocery store via a mobile site or app from their mobile device.

Additionally, 27 percent of moms scanned bar codes or QR codes.

At the same time, 20 percent of moms who own smartphones do not use their devices for grocery-related activities. This shows the significant opportunity that marketers still have to tap into the lucrative market of mothers.

Other recent research confirms that moms are one of the most active group (see story).

To tap into these unengaged mobile moms, CPGs and grocery brands should consider leveraging the medium with targeted and personalized deals that persuade consumers to shop in-store.

“Placed is seeing more advanced CPGs start to build models that expand past simple demographic targeting and further segment based on behaviors as moms are a complex consumer group,” Mr. Shim said.

“Additionally the use of location in targeting is accelerating, with CPGs trying to reach moms in the moment, while consuming in the physical world, versus limiting themselves to just the grocery store or at home or work,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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