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Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen, after yesterday's release of Q3 results, said that he believes that cook-and-eat-at-home habits created during the pandemic are sticking.

“An awful lot of customers learned how to cook and they really enjoy it,” he told CNBC.  “What they’re telling us is they like to eat healthy and they feel like they can eat healthier by cooking at home. They also like to show off their new skills.”

At the same time, Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip told Fox Business that the company is managing inflation with selective price increases.

"We are being disciplined in managing these increases. Our teams are doing an excellent job working to minimize the effects on our customers and our financial model by using our data and working closely with our suppliers," he said.  "We are passing along higher costs to the customer where it makes sense to do so. In some key areas, we are choosing not to pass through cost increases and continuing to invest in value for the customer."

KC's View:

These two items actually point to an overarching strategy on which Kroger (and every retailer) needs to focus - being on the consumer's side.

Whether creating eat-at-home offerings that appeal on nutritional or economic grounds (or both), or keeping prices in check in segments where it matters, that appears to be what Kroger is doing.

It is all about defining - and continuing to redefine - "essential" for tumultuous times.