The Kroger Co.: Public Relations and Social Responsibility
(7 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
Gun control is an important issue in American politics. In 2014, in light of recent gun violence, gun control advocate organizations lobbied retailers to prohibit customers from carrying guns into their stores. The organizations had successfully lobbied Target Corporation, then turned its attention to The Kroger Co. (Kroger), petitioning it to change its store policy allowing customers to carry guns where state law permitted it. However, Kroger elected to maintain its existing policy. Gun violence increased in the United States over the subsequent years and gun safety advocates increased their lobbying efforts, raising the question of whether Kroger should revisit its position from 2014, allowing customers to carry guns in its stores, and if so, what position it should take.
The case examines the influence of controversial social issues—in this case, gun violence—and the effect of advocacy groups on a retailer’s policies, public relations, and revenue. It is intended for use in an undergraduate-level course on public relations or marketing to give students the opportunity to think critically about the concept of a social environment and to consider how the environment and the company’s responses impact company profits. The case can also be used as an introduction to the importance of company communication and public relations. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Understand the connection between a business’s public reputation and the profits generated by its consumers.
- Examine how businesses handle conflict within their environments and the relationship between a company’s public relations and its profits.
- Analyze Kroger’s environment in 2014 as gun control advocate organizations lobbied retailers to ban the presence of guns from their stores in the United States and consider possible responses and their consequences.
- Advise Kroger how to proceed, based on case facts.
United States, Large, 2018
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