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Kroger said this week that it is launching a new Auto Buying Program, developed in partnership with digital automotive marketplace TrueCar.

The announcement says that the program "provides comprehensive price context as well as upfront guaranteed savings off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) on new vehicles, and discounts on used vehicles.

"Kroger customers will have access to more than 16,500 TrueCar Certified Dealers. They will be able to see what others in their area paid for the new car they want based on recent vehicle transactions, and will be able to access machine-learning powered price ratings on used vehicle listings. These data and tools will empower Kroger customers to assess price competitiveness on their next vehicle purchase."

In addition, the company said, "Customers who purchase a vehicle through the Kroger Auto Buying Program will be rewarded with a free Fuel VIP membership. This will allow shoppers to earn 1 extra fuel point for nearly every 1 dollar spent, doubling the money that they can save at the pump."
KC's View:
Good program to offer.

But … if I had been in the room, which I moist assuredly was not, I might've asked if this is the best week to announce this program. After all, Kroger's big news this week was a new logo, slogan and ad campaign that puts the emphasis on fresh.

While selling cars - and getting customers great values - is a worthwhile effort, it doesn't exactly reinforce the "fresh" message.

I think Kroger has conceded through its announcement this week that it has a narrative problem. I'm not sure that the car buying service reinforces the story that it wants to tell, and that builds on what should be its strengths in the marketplace.

Then again, maybe someone in the room made all these points, and concerns were dismissed because at this point it is critical for Kroger to be announcing as many customer-centric innovations as possible as quickly as possible. Which may be true. I just hope someone asked the question.