Kraft connects the CRM dots

Kraft Canada prides itself on what it has accomplished over the last 18 months. And it's no wonder, given that 85% of CRM projects fail.

Kraft Canada prides itself on what it has accomplished over the last 18 months. And it’s no wonder, given that 85% of CRM projects fail.

About two years ago, the purveyor of KD and Miracle Whip, among many other brands, set out to better understand consumers and encourage their involvement and interaction. With a little patience, smarts and new technology, it created a plethora of individual relationships – the likes of which it never before experienced.

Next month, Kraft’s not-quite-two-year-old CRM division will have all the pieces of its CRM strategy in place – putting it ahead of virtually all other packaged goods companies in North America.

The underlying strategy to it all is ‘Family. Food. Simple.’ The end product combines a month-old redesigned Web site that includes more recipes, photos, kitchen tips and food guides than ever before; its What’s Cooking magazine (Qu’est-ce-qui mijote in French Canada), which is distributed by mail to 900,000 Canadians; a 1-800 chef line that accepts ‘hundreds of calls each day;’ quarterly direct mail packages; bi-weekly opt-in e-mails; and the Kraft Kitchens Cooking School, officially launched this past fall.

‘We still have to continue to customize and deliver to the consumers what they want, when they want it,’ says Kraft Canada’s Carl Nanni, executive VP, marketing services. ‘When you see [the CRM package] in February, the job will not be done – we will continue to enhance services of functionality to the consumer on an ongoing basis, and enhance our ability to really understand.’

The insights gleaned about the Kraft consumer mindset have obviously shaped the ‘total solution strategy’ thus far, says Jaya Kumar, senior director of CRM.

‘We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do that will make the most sense to consumers, that will help them the most?’ The answer was, ‘Help them put dinner on the table… help them get those lunchboxes emptied…’ This is what consumers told us,’ he says.

‘We determined that every consumer has either an idea challenge, a skill challenge, or a time challenge. Our job now is to deploy content intelligently, using our brands, to solve those problems – by offering total solutions.’

Years of research boils down to those three simple nuggets (idea, skill and time), adds Nanni, each of which can be applied to any life stage, making ‘segments’ a lot less important – it doesn’t matter if it’s a single mom or an empty nester, the same challenges exist. The difference is in how they deal with it.

In the case of the Kraft Kitchen Cooking School, says Kumar, it was about providing branded solutions in a completely different environment – creating a human element.

‘It’s a new dimension of interaction with the consumer,’ he says, adding that they also provide editorial content for the Toronto Star and cooking demos on City TV’s Cityline, for example.

As for the magazine, it can be personalized, based on the preferences consumers submit in their profile. French Canadian readers, for example, wanted a broader selection of gourmet recipes. (Until recently, profile questionnaires were only included in direct mail pieces and in the magazines – now, the new version of the Web site allows people to register and create their personal profile online for the first time.)

‘We didn’t keep preferences as much as we would have liked prior to the last 18 months, but we still had amazing databases. Today we’re finding that consumers will give you everything if they believe what you’re doing is right for them,’ says Kumar. The response rate across all channels has been ‘encouraging’ and ‘well above the market averages,’ he says, though he refuses to divulge specific numbers.

‘We have become more of a content-provider for food ideas – none of these initiatives existed 18 months ago.’

‘The key now,’ says Nanni, ‘is integrating those channels so the customer experience is seamless – so that we remember what the customer has already told us, for example. The technology has advanced enough for us to do that.’

‘Dealing consistently with that one consumer across every touch point is where I think a lot of CRM programs have failed. In a way, we’ve had the benefit of seeing a whole lot of people trying to tackle CRM – it gives us the advantage of avoiding the traps.’

In many cases, he suspects, those that are having problems with CRM haven’t started on a solid footing: the philosophy should be founded on understanding and delivering to consumers – too many companies are learning about the consumer at the same time they are trying to implement a complex set of technologies.

In fact, says Kumar, at Kraft they didn’t ‘talk or use’ technology for the first 18 months, and only began implementing tech over the last three months. ‘We wanted to get the consumer piece first. Only now are we at a stage where we think we can layer technology on top of our content and data to make the experience even richer.’