On October 19th, 2022, the Harvest Group Kroger team hosted our inaugural Blueprint event in Cincinnati with several executive leadership members from Kroger and 84.51°. As we strive to provide continuous education to our clients, Blueprint served as an exclusive event for our clients to hear directly from Kroger and 84.51˚ on growth strategies for 2023 – from a deep dive in grocery insights to a Category Manager panel. 

Speakers and attendees from Kroger and 84.51° included:  

Here are 5 takeaways from the event with key action items for suppliers at Kroger:  

1) Market share is the key lagging indicator Kroger is using to measure success 

  • It was clear from every level of the organization, from Stuart Aitken to all the Category Managers (CMs), that the single metric for success at Kroger is market share growth in the category, at both a national and a division level. 
  • Within this market share metric, innovation is being measured by % household repeat rate as a key metric for success of an item. 
  • KEY SUPPLIER ACTION: Ensure your 2023 growth plan at Kroger exceeds the category growth plan and national category growth expectations. 

2) Growth will be driven by Kroger’s 5 specific Growth Pools 

  • Natural & Organic: Stuart, Holly, Barry, and the Directors all confirmed N&O is not a ”trend” and is a place Kroger will continue to invest as they see significant growth ahead for this segment of the business. 
  • Multicultural: Stuart commented on the continued rise of the multicultural consumer and the importance of ensuring Kroger is meeting this customer’s needs at a store-by-store and division level. This includes the segmentation of the planogram project they are completing this year. 
  • Seamless: Kroger will continue to invest in making buying groceries at Kroger as easy as possible. This growth strategy ranges from the rollout of additional Kroger Ocado sheds to significant investment in the Kroger.com experience and the expansion of their 30-minute pickup service. 
  • Innovation: Each level of Kroger executive shared the recognition that Kroger has been behind on innovation. This will stop in 2023 as they lean into “innovation of significance” to drive growth, win with loyal consumers, and bring in new households. 
  • Health, Hygiene & Cleansing: This growth pool, a product of the change in consumer habits during COVID, is not just in HBC, but also expands into food. Kroger is focusing on multi-category habits and trip drivers beyond just the cleaning aisle and on bringing this focus on ‘clean’ to grocery.
  • KEY SUPPLIER ACTION: As you present your brand or innovation to your CM, ensure you are speaking to the relevancy of your items to these core growth pools. 

3) Supply Chain Communication is Critical 

  • It was clear that Kroger’s intense focus on supply chain will continue into 2023. CMs are involved in chasing POs, even to the point of sending significant issues to the level of Barry Craft. 
  • The #1 recommendation which was repeated was clear, transparent, proactive communication of issues related to supply chain. 
  • Working through the CMs in partnership with Buyers at Blue Ash will limit the disruption and create a trust level which will help elevate the conversation to a more strategic level. 
  • KEY SUPPLIER ACTION: As soon as you are aware of any disruption in the supply chain, communicate with both your team and with Kroger to stay ahead of any future challenges and present solutions to problems in a clear manner. 

4) Kroger’s Our Brands strategy will evolve into an ‘and’ strategy at shelf 

  • The push behind Kroger Brands will only continue in 2023. Stuart mentioned the need to create innovation within private label which meets the core consumer needs. Kroger plans to continue investing in Our Brands while simultaneously investing in significant innovation in partnership with national brands in key categories.  This will lead to a PL + Branded Innovation platform of growth for Kroger in 2023. 
  • KEY SUPPLIER ACTION: As you present your new items or core growth plans, proactively showcase the status of your brand’s interaction with Kroger private label.  Showcase how your items & brand play well with the private label consumer and win with a different consumer base. 

5) Kroger expects manufacturers of all sizes to invest strategically in the three pillars of 84.51°

  • Leveraging the data and insights provided from 84.51° will allow brands to show up ”speaking Kroger’s language” and relating to Kroger’s key consumer groups (Premium, Loyal, Millennial Families). 
  • Utilizing these data insights to create a targeted/focused Best Customer Communications plan via 84.51° will allow brands to achieve the key growth metric of % household repeat rate Kroger will be looking for. 
  • Finally, identify the level of investment you need within your category to win on Kroger.com with KPM’s evolving promotional levers. One leader commented that promotional investment is table stakes at this point for most categories. 
  • KEY SUPPLIER ACTION: Partner with a team like Harvest Group that has deep relationships at Kroger to strategically identify your brand’s current spend across the three 84.51° platforms and how that can be fully maximized as we plan for 2023. 

We’re proud to offer unique opportunities for our clients to learn and grow as we walk the retail journey together. Thank you to everyone who made the time to attend and a special thanks to our friends from Kroger! 

If you’re interested in learning more about Harvest Group’s work with clients at Kroger and would like to explore becoming a Harvest Group client yourself, reach out to us at hello@harvestgroup.com or fill out our Contact Us form here