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Exclusive Q&A: How Kroger enhances store experience — with music

Kroger is providing customized music and information to its brick-and-mortar shoppers via location-based audio out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

Chain Store Age recently interviewed Tian Philson, director, in-store media of 84.51°, Kroger’s data analytics subsidiary; and Paul Brenner, president of audio OOH and chief strategy officer, Vibenomics. Since July 2020, Kroger has partnered with audio OOH advertising company Vibenomics to provide customized music and ads in its stores.

What are the benefits of in-store music for shoppers?   
Tian Philson: Kroger’s purpose is to feed the human spirit, and that purpose comes to life in everything we do – including how we curate our in-store environment. We want our in-store environment to provide the best customer experience possible, and audio plays an important role in creating a positive environment through music and information.

Paul Brenner: What a customer hears as they shop in a grocery or convenience store, from the songs on the playlist to the tone, style, dialect and language used in an on-air ad read, determines their experience. Keeping advertisers happy, shoppers engaged and ready to buy, all in the timeframe of a single supermarket visit, is a balancing act.

But when combining in-store messaging with music, audio out-of-home (audio OOH) technology creates a unique opportunity to influence customer buying decisions at the point of purchase. Today, retailers must implement in-store strategies that mirror what their customers have come to expect from their online shopping experiences. By incorporating audio OOH technology into their retail plans, stores have the power to broadcast curated music playlists tailored to their target demographic’s interests, providing effective messaging that has relevance to the customers and their current buying needs.

What made you select Vibenomics to help select in-store music? Philson: Our associates and customers are our number one priority at Kroger, and this is a way for us to reach them with more meaningful content. We’ve received positive feedback from both associates and customers. We’ve even seen dancing in the aisles during a shopping experience!

How does Vibenomics work?
Brenner: Vibenomics is a location-based audio OOH advertising and experience company that powers audio channels for retailers, giving brands the ability to talk to shoppers directly at the point of sale with cloud-based technology, licensed background music library, data integration capabilities, a full-service team of audio experience experts, and a network of on-demand professional voice talent.

Through this relationship, Vibenomics is working with Kroger to engage shoppers while building stronger relationships for the consumer brands they carry in their store, reaching customers where they shop and most importantly, where they spend. Advertisers can leverage the audio OOH programmatic platform to meet the needs of their digital buying expectations and reach a captive audience in a targeted and measurable way.

What benefits has Kroger received from Vibenomics?
Philson: Vibenomics brings forward a collaborative approach that allows us to provide our customers with up-to-date and relevant information on their favorite brands, helping to improve their shopping experience. Vibenomics also allows our brand partners to reach customers in a pivotal place during the buying process: the shelf.

Are there any future plans for audio OOH you can discuss?  
Philson: As the largest U.S. grocer, our innovation strategy continues to anchor in meaningful customer experiences. We want our brands to succeed through effective media and for our customers to have the optimal shopping experiences in-store. We will continue to keep that focus at the forefront of our decision-making.

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