The lesson: When a marketer creates something that's actually
useful, consumers don't really see it as straight marketing, or
they're at least willing to accept advertising as the payoff.
Kraft's app, which launched in December, is a helpful tool for
consumers looking to make dinners faster, easier and more
convenient. "When we look at consumers, we think that they're busy
and they're looking for food-planning tools that can make their
lives easier," said Ed Kaczmarek, director-innovation, new services
at Kraft. "We developed iFood Assistant as a downloadable app so
they can use it anytime and anywhere."
He added that his division, charged with forging deeper
relationships with consumers using new technology, developed the
program for the iPhone because of the consumer experience it
IFood Assistant's rich interface works well with the handset, and
its navigation is similar to that of the iPod. The app offers a
host of recipes, browse-able by ingredients, meal type or prep
time. Consumers may register at KraftFoods.com
to save recipes and build shopping lists.
Recipes come with instructions simple enough for the
uninitiated, and daily featured recipes try to tempt the
uninspired. Of course, the dishes incorporate Kraft products. A
featured recipe last week, for "chicken cacciatore pronto," calls
for Kraft Light Zesty Italian dressing, chicken thighs, garlic,
diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red peppers, whole-wheat spaghetti,
Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese and Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella
Cheese. There are a number of instructional videos, with guides to
portion sizes and knife skills, as well as step-by-step directions
for making dishes, such as fishcakes or even roast turkey with
For now, Mr. Kaczmarek said Kraft is using the data to
understand when and how consumers are shopping, what they're
making, and which ingredients they prefer. Since users need to sign
in to Kraft Foods before downloading recipes and shopping lists,
that information is sent directly to the company, allowing Kraft to
gather information on which recipes are the most popular and which
ingredients are most used. Kraft is, of course, running ads
throughout the app, some before the instructional videos and some
"In terms of being paid, we think it's a tremendous value for 99
cents," Mr. Kaczmarek said. "For the price of a song, we're
delivering a robust offering, and any upgrade with more services
and content will be free to the consumer."
Rene Ritchie, editor of the iPhone
Blog, said while some consumers are willing to pay for
convenient apps, and others are willing to tolerate ads if
something is free, it's hard to pull off both. The fact that Kraft
has been able to crack the top 100 paid apps, he said, is
impressive. But he described the app's three-star rating as
"You want to see four, or five if people really like it," he
said. "That's pretty middle-of-the road." Mr. Ritchie said
consumers may be downloading the app blind, since there are no free
trials, and then disliking the app when they realize there are
The 83 reviews posted at the App Store are all over the map,
from "Not good at all!" to "Wow ... best 99 cents spent." One
reviewer said, "I have used Kraft online and this is just as good,
plus there are more features," but lamented that the shopping lists
weren't comprehensive enough. Another wrote, "I've never really
cooked a lot but these recipes make me feel like Rachael Ray in the
kitchen! Thanks Kraft!"
What iFood Assistant can teach marketers
- Consumers are willing to pay for
utility and convenience.
- They will share personal information
in exchange for useful ideas.
- Use information gathered in a
- Look for the "sweet spot" of what
your brand can offer consumers.
- Mirroring Apple software is a selling