Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer, employing more than 334,000 associates who serve customers in 2,461 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states. The company operates under two dozen local banner names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. Kroger also operates 784 convenience stores, 375 fine jewelry stores, 954 supermarket fuel centers and 40 food processing plants in the U.S.

Positive Themes

Nearly one-quarter of the sample sound bites mention liking the Kroger brand. Diapers, peanut butter and milk are most often mentioned, followed by an array of more than a dozen other products, including peach tea, sunscreen, coffee, eggs and French fries. Some consumers like Kroger-brand products for their inexpensive price, others for quality or other reasons.

  • We have one dairy here that is what you would call old fashioned and there milk freezes the best. But its at least a buck more a gallon. Kroger brands do well for me (source)
  • I prefer the Kroger granola and nutrigrain bars to the name brand, cuz I’m CRAZAY!! 10:14 AM Jan 13th via Echofon. (source)
  • Peanut Butter!!! Kroger brand is awesome! Also batteries and antifreeze. Many people do not know this but there are only very few makers of this. (source)

Money-saving programs are always popular, and Kroger’s coupon program is the second most-often mentioned positive theme.

  • Marci of Cincinnati Coupons says: Start slow. Start at one store and get to understand how coupons work. I often recommend Kroger since they are very coupon friendly. Once you have mastered the grocery stores then I’d say advance to the drugstores. From Lesa: Learn one thing/store at a time. (source)
  • Kroger is WAY better than walmart. I’m 99% sure that most krogers double coupons. (even triple some days maybe) That, plus the sale prices that Kroger has will be much better than the roll backs of Walmart. (source)

Huge selection was also a prevalent theme and understandably so, because one of the reasons people go to a supermarket instead of individual specialty stores is for the convenience of finding everything in one place.

  • The new Kroger was AMAZING!!!!!! It has everything, an awesome produce section, tons of baby stuff, house wears, furniture, bedding, wine, beer, it blew my mind!! (source)

Negative Themes

Limited Selection was the biggest negative. “Chicken” and “sale items” were most often cited, again followed by a wide array of items, from brewer’s yeast to mini cupcakes to Crayola crayons.

  • Kroger was another disappointing stop today. Don’t get me wrong both OOPs were great but when you have a list full of goodies your getting for free or super cheap and then you get to the store and they are all MIA it’s very frustrating. I’m sure you all have felt this way at some point. (source)
  • I need to wrap gifts before I head out for the Purdue Oven Stuffer chicken (which Kroger did not have because they [Kroger] often suck) . Pics to follow. It was RED in the morning so I’m wondering what the fickle, impossible-to-predict Ohio weather has in-store this Christmas… (source)

Many consumers—24 percent—wrote positive sound bites about liking the Kroger brand; but 19 percent say the quality of the Kroger brand is poor.

  • Kroger brand [diapers] is horrible. they are thin and hard as a rock. A lot of people love the Target diapers, you might want to check those out. (source)

Different consumers have different personal issues with the coupon program, but this is a documented one.

  • P&G ends Kroger deal . Procter & Gamble Co. is getting a digital divorce from Kroger Co., severing the online coupon program the two Cincinnati-based companies began two years ago. P&G e-mailed customers this week to say they won’t be able to download its “eSaver” paperless coupons for Pampers diapers, Tide detergent and other products to their loyalty cards after Dec. 31. (source)
  • I politely told her that I had been there just the night before and I had no problem. She said that not all of their cashiers know the new policy. So Kroger just lost a shopper. Last night my husband and I were in Krogers when one of the cashiers told him that he could only use one IP coupon per item and that she would allow him to use two “this time”. That Kroger causes me more grief! (source)

Insights

It’s not unusual for the same theme to appear on both the positive and negative charts in a netnography, but it is unusual for so many of the top ones to appear in both places. Here are three top positive themes:

  • Like Kroger Brand
  • Coupon
  • Huge Selections

Here are three top negative themes. Notice they’re the exact opposites of the positive themes:

  • Kroger Brand Bad Quality
  • Coupon Issue
  • Limited Selection

Consumers typically post about their personal experiences, and the nature of that experience determines whether it’s a positive or negative post. If they went to Kroger to buy a specific item—Troparocka, a BBQ beef hot pocket or whatever—and the store is out, the consumer posts a negative sound bite. That’s legitimate; but for us to generalize that the supermarket chain has a “limited selection” based on occasional searches for somewhat rare items is risky.

On the positive side, many consumers say they like the Kroger brand, but again, they’re reporting on their experience with one item—Worcestershire sauce, honey crispy medley, and others—and that gets rolled up into the category of “Like Kroger Brand.” In this case, however, the generalization may be more valid because an accumulation of positive remarks about individual Kroger brands does add up to a generally positive reaction to the whole category of Kroger store brands.

One common thread in the “coupon issue” theme is that Kroger cashiers are inconsistent in enforcing coupon policies, which causes hard feelings among customers. That sounds like an internal communications issue that the company can study and fix, enabling them to keep the coupon policies that work for them and improve customer good will.

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