Kroger plays ball with the home team

April 03, 2014

Exclusive brand with Cincinnati Reds could raise fan fever, and heat up the hometown image.

Just in time for this week’s start of the Major League Baseball season - and home grilling and tailgating activities – Kroger has launched an exclusive brand of ballpark food products with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Called Reds Home Team, the line includes corn dogs, soft pretzels, brat buns, bottled water, Italian ices and peanuts, according to a Cincinnati Business Courier account. For example, Kroger stores in this market sell 32-packs of the bottled water, while a single bottle sells for $4.50 at the ballpark.

The Lempert Report sees this as a smart extension of its 60-year-old sponsorship of the ball club. According to the Reds website, 57 Kroger stores sell game tickets via Ticketmaster at its customer service desks. In 2012, fans that bought select tickets to certain games got vouchers for a free Kroger Meal Deal at the stadium – a hot dog, 16-oz. Coke, bag of chips and a snack that typically sells for $8.

We suggest a few ideas that could possibly drive this Home Team concept further for Kroger – as well as for other retailers looking to emulate it with different teams in their respective trading areas:

  • Make the brand about cause marketing. Donate some profits from the brand toward hunger relief or other worthy programs.
  • Expand the brand into good-for-you products that promote the stores’ healthful image. How about logoed bags of pre-cut carrots for snacks at Little League games, or to pack in school lunchboxes. Kids are enthusiastic sports fans, and these could go with conversations that healthier eating builds strong, energetic bodies for better athletic performance.
  • Seek an endorsement from the team to make stores feel more local than competitors.
  • Stick with the team in each city that draws the most passion from fans, and limit the brand’s availability to the run of the season to build anticipation for it the following year. This will make the biggest emotional impact on customers and make it more special than rotating from team to team with each new professional sports season.