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Kroger announced yesterday the expansion of its Boost loyalty marketing program, which it started testing in four of its divisions late last year, chainwide.

The two-tier program, Kroger says, offers "annual membership levels at $59 or $99," providing "free next-day delivery or free delivery in as little as two hours on orders of $35 or more, respectively. Boost members also receive 2X fuel points for every dollar spent as well as exclusive savings on Our Brands, including Murray's Cheese, Vitacost, and Home Chef, Simple Truth and Private Selection."

Boost has been operating until now in Greater Cincinnati as well as in the retailer's Atlanta, Columbus and Indianapolis regions.  The pilot, according to the company, resulted "in a growing number of new members and a significant increase in delivery sales compared to non-Boost divisions."

KC's View:

In the end, programs like these have to be focused on connecting retailers and shoppers in a more intimate way.  They have to be about creating consistent and ongoing communication between the store and the customer.  They have to be eliminating friction to the greatest degree possible.  And they have to be about  moving away from transaction-based relationships and creating something deeper, stronger and less vulnerable to disruption.

Amazon Prime proved the degree to which this is possible.  Walmart+ is endeavoring to do the same thing.  And so is Kroger Boost.

I'm not saying that every retailer has to have a version of this.  But every retailer does have to focus on finding ways to do all of the above, and competing with those creating programs like Prime and Boost.