Chillin’ in the Kraft kitchen

Did you know you could make a chocolate sauce using frozen Cool Whip? Pop it in the microwave with some Baker's Chocolate cubes, stir, and pour.

Did you know you could make a chocolate sauce using frozen Cool Whip? Pop it in the microwave with some Baker’s Chocolate cubes, stir, and pour.

This and other handy tips were gleaned during a recent tour of Kraft’s Toronto HQ, home to the only Canadian outpost of the five Kraft Kitchen centres in North America. (There are actually several kitchens and one room just for beverage tasting, replete with coffee spittoons.)

I was there to interview Kraft Canada president Dino Bianco for the first article in our new Where Next series. The series, which kicks off next issue, will take you inside some of Canada’s largest marketing-driven organizations to hear the folks at the top identify their priorities and challenges, and the key factors driving their product development and communications strategy.

In addition to seeing what’s cooking post restructuring at this mega food corp. with its ‘household name’ stable of brands, we were also interested in Kraft’s CRM program. While canvassing the industry for great brands for our Understanding Women conference (coming up May 10), the Kraft’s What’s Cooking mag and site were frequent mentions. Check out the site and you’ll find a nifty feature wherein you type in ingredients you have on hand, and they flip you a recipe. And while no one can solve hunger with just garlic and olives, it was at that moment I knew why Kraft’s name kept coming up when we asked: ‘Who has been taking a ‘solutions’ approach?’

That’s the guiding principle behind the brands we’ve invited to share their learning at strategy’s confab next month. They’re the ones observing women’s needs, and providing relevant solutions. They’re communicating on her time and terms. And they’re largely trailblazing in these areas.

One of the societal shifts that Bianco identified as an increasing focus is the boomer market. This was echoed by other categories -from Reitmans to entertainment brands. One media exec noted that there’s currently a huge chasm between the creative execution and the media target in this area, and summed up the disconnect as: ‘Marketers are trying to speak to that boomer audience, but are afraid to be seen to do so. They know it’s an aging population, but don’t know how to deal with it.’

To help with that, we’ve invited Martha Barletta, author of Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the Largest Market Segment, to keynote UW. The CEO of Illinois-based Trendsight Group will focus on the booming boomer market, and how best to connect with the 55+ woman. Barletta, who started on the brand management side at Clorox, also had a stint as VP, account director at FCB, Chicago, where she managed campaigns for Kraft Mac & Cheese which won Kraft’s internal excellence awards. So, we keep coming back to KD. And it seems like we’ve been craving convenience for longer than the marketplace has delivered.

Our Understanding Women agenda will cover the revved up convenience obsession, as well as the power of communities. And for further Understanding, W Network’s Shelley Findlay will share fresh research on Canadian women, and will be joined by other Canadian marketers who have used innovative methods to tap into consumer insight.

Jokingly (although not entirely), as we pondered some of these strategies and trends – Home Depot marketing to women, Trojan creating a product line just for women, the fact that women’s emerging digital media adoption rate is second only to teens, and that a woman is more likely to be the boss than a stay-at-home mom – I’ve been dubbing this societal shift as ‘Women are the new Men.’ Something to think about, as you Swiffer your TiVo….

Cheer,mm

Mary Maddever, executive editor, strategy/MIC