Stores already design their audio environment to reflect their shoppers. High-end luxury stores tend to play classical, instrumental music at low volumes; Abercrombie & Fitch stores made pulsing, loud music integral to their appeal to young shoppers. In less specialized settings, whether elevators in public buildings or conventional grocery stores, the music instead tends to be relatively generic, familiar, and appealing to a broad range of consumers.

Without necessarily altering that approach, Kroger stores are adopting a new way to communicate through audio with their customers, using advertising that is more personalized to their location. The private station will broadcast, in addition to entertaining content, advertising that reflects the situation in each location, such as weather patterns or local news. Thus for example, advertisements for sunscreen will be more common in its stores in Florida; when flu season hits, stores in areas that suffer high infection rates will feature more recommendations for cold remedy medications. If a local sports team is heading to the playoffs, another advertising design might promote chips and dip and chicken wings.

Although this channel and the advertisements it features are not completely personalized, at the individual level, the effort reflects Kroger’s ongoing determination to connect with shoppers in novel ways. Many of those initiatives rely on digital innovations and cutting-edge technology. By moving the effort in stores, Kroger is making sure that it is not ignoring those customers who still prefer to meander through the aisles, singing along to some soft rock.

Discussion Question:

  1. What other personalized advertising might Kroger undertake in its stores, using its proprietary broadcast station?

Source: Jessica Dumont, “Kroger to Launch Targeted Audio Ads in Store,” Marketing Dive, July 9, 2020