- Kroger will partner with JTG Daugherty Racing as part of a new sponsorship strategy for its two fully funded cars for the NASCAR Cup Series season with drivers Chris Buescher and Ryan Preece, according to NASCAR.com.
- The No. 47 Chevrolet, driven by Preece, will highlight the chain’s shopping and delivery options. The No. 37 Chevrolet, driven by Buescher, will display the store’s logo and rotate through seven different shopping themes throughout the season, like spring cleaning or slow cooker recipes. Kroger will also be prominent on the fire suits, crew apparel and equipment of Buescher’s team.
- A new mobile technology will be introduced where fans will be given a keyword to text that will direct them to tips, sweepstakes and savings from Kroger and other featured brands.
When the NASCAR season begins February 17, Kroger will be front and center on both vehicles. The grocer's involvement with NASCAR isn’t new, but this sponsorship deal is innovative in the way the displays will push consumer awareness of the grocery giant's delivery options and product selection.
The themes on Buescher’s car, which change monthly, direct viewers to snack foods, spring cleaning, healthcare, grilling, back-to-school items, healthy meals and slow cooker recipes. The ads tie multiple weeks together and remind shoppers when it’s the best time to head to Kroger for seasonal specials. Kroger will be able to collect immediate feedback and tailor its promotions based on the time of the year; for example, highlighting back to school items during the summer as children get ready to head back to the classroom.
Meanwhile, Preece is a promising rookie in the sport so people will be closely watching his car, and that means high visibility for Kroger. His car will showcase the convenience and options Kroger provides its shoppers, including online ordering and delivery.
In addition, the sponsorship keeps NASCAR fans engaged with the Kroger brand not only through the texting program but also a dedicated fan page that launches from Kroger.com. As the racers drive their cars and hold news events, Kroger's brand and food options will be prominently on display for the millions of viewers watching the sport.
“How do you create some critical mass so fans can engage with the brands the right way?” JTG Daugherty team's primary owner Tad Geschickter told Forbes. “This theme idea came to the forefront. People shop by special occasions quite often and those occasions occur throughout the year. So, how do we tie multiple weeks together and tell them when it’s a good time to shop at Kroger for snacking or grilling or whatever that particular time frame calls for?”
This connection aligns with Kroger’s strategic plan to invest in technology and add services that appeal to shoppers. As part of its Project Restock, Kroger has been trying out different partnerships and investing in new technologies. The grocer has added e-commerce options, digital shelves and smartphone engagement in an attempt to attract more consumers. The partnership with NASCAR is one more way it can tout its grocery selection and delivery options to shoppers.
Grocery stores have long had a relationship with NASCAR. Winn-Dixie has sponsored the Winn-Dixie 300 in Talladega, Alabama. Giant Foods partnered with NASCAR to bring a 5,000 square foot pop-up grocery store to the track in 2010. Save Mart Supermarkets has a multi-year deal with the annual Spring Cup Series and has been a sponsor since 1992.
However, viewership, both in person and on television, has been declining in recent years. Last year’s Monster Energy Cup race delivered 4.7 million TV viewers, down from 5.9 million in 2017 and 6.7 million in 2016. TV ratings are falling in many sports, but the decline for NASCAR is steep by most accounts. Sponsors are taking notice, too. Target ended its 16-year sponsorship in 2017. This could minimize the benefit Kroger receives from its sponsorship deal, a factor that the grocer will no doubt be watching.
This is Kroger’s ninth year as a primary sponsor at JTG Daugherty Racing. What makes 2019 different is the marriage between advertising and engagement. The success of the partnership will be easier to measure and it could likely rev up sales for both Kroger and its partnering brands.