Kroger and Walgreens have announced two initiatives to build on the exploratory pilot the companies announced in October. The pilot combined Kroger’s food and grocery expertise with Walgreens’ expertise in pharmacy, health, and beauty. The initiatives will introduce Kroger Express to 13 Walgreens test stores in Northern Kentucky and Home Chef meal kits to 65 Walgreens locations in and around Chicago, Illinois.
 
The Kroger Express concept will offer 2,300 of Kroger’s Our Brands products in the Kentucky test stores. The first store to host the concept is now operational in Florence, Kentucky. The remaining 12 pilot stores will be operational early next year. As announced in October, the participating pilot stores are offering a one-stop shopping experience where customers can access products from both brands and order groceries on kroger.com for pickup at Walgreens. Kroger Express marks an expansion of the original offering.
 
In Chicago, Home Chef meal kits will provide Walgreens’ customers with pre-portioned meals that can be quickly prepared at home. The offering enhances the reach of Home Chef’s Express products, already available at certain members of Kroger’s Family of Stores, including select Mariano’s stores in the Chicago area. During the pilot, Walgreens will offer three Home Chef Express meal kit options, with recipes rotating on a bi-weekly basis. Other recipes are available for delivery through homechef.com, where shoppers can find additional weekly variety. Each meal serves two and starts at $8.50 per serving. Information about participating locations is available at homechef.com/grocery.
 
“We are redefining the customer experience in a variety of ways, including innovative partnerships like our test-and-learn pilot with Walgreens,” says Robert Clark, Kroger’s Senior Vice President of Merchandising. “We are excited to enter the next phase of the pilot. The Kroger Express concept creates easy access to our most popular Our Brands products through a fill-in grocery shopping experience for Walgreens customers, and our Home Chef Express meal kits provide customers with an on-demand solution for tonight’s dinner.”
 
He continues, “Customers have responded favorably to the retail meal kits at our Mariano’s stores in the market and other Kroger Family of Stores located in different cities. The Walgreens expansion provides more Chicagoans convenient access to a quick, simple meal.”
 
Richard Ashworth, Walgreens’ President of Operations, adds, “We’re pleased to continue working together to explore new concepts that expand product selection to provide a better shopping experience and greater value for our customers.”
 
The Kroger-Walgreen partnership marks an innovative move toward personalization not often seen in the food retailer industry. Kroger Express in Kentucky and Home Chef meal kits in Chicago not only provide Walgreens customers convenient access to the Kroger foods they enjoy. The two initiatives also offer those customers individualized food experiences, enabling them to choose exactly what they want to eat in a location with which they’re comfortable.
 
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, says of this movement towards personalization, “We continue to see from our audience and our members the need to collaborate across industries and verticals to give the customer what they want. The ability to offer personalized products and services from what would have been a competitive situation is a huge positive, as is the emerging interest in sharing best practices and procedures.”
 
Over the summer, Loyalty360 hosted a digital roundtable joined by Brian Venuti, Vice President of Global CRM at Luxottica, among others. From this discussion, and our own research, we found that over 61 percent of brands plan on adding personalization capabilities to their organizations over the course of the next year. Over 68 percent of brands said that they would add these capabilities because of increased interest from customers.
 
This data tells us that brands understand that customers want personalized experiences. In addition, the success of the Kroger-Walgreens partnership provides an example of what brands who focus on cooperation and personalization can achieve. Clearly, other brands need to incorporate both into their operations.   
 

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