Kraft Reinvents Itself to Appeal to the Millennial Mindset®

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

Jalapeno-flavored Philadelphia cream cheese.  It has a peppy kick, is slightly tangy and, of course, rich and creamy.  Is your mouth watering yet?  This bold new flavor is one of the new flavor offerings introduced by Kraft this year. As a push to reach more millennial consumers, Kraft is in the process of reinventing their brand by focusing more on digital and social media and offering products that provide an exciting flavor adventure at an affordable price.

Millennials shop, buy and eat differently and are leaving their mark on the food retail Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.45.43 AMindustry (for more info about millennial eating trends, check out our report, The Secret Sauce for the Modern Brand). Brands across the nation are altering their marketing strategies to appeal to this growing demographic by focusing more on digital and social media and by offering bold new flavors. As one of the most iconic brands with a portfolio decades in the making, Kraft is leading the pack when it comes to brand innovation to appeal to the Millennial Mindset® consumer.  An article in the Chicago Tribune recently reported that Kraft reinvented its entire corporate culture to reflect more of a start-up vibe that has proven to be successful in Silicon Valley.  This new environment has lead to a stronger digital presence, which has increased awareness and sales.

Wendy Kritt, Kraft’s Senior Director of Consumer Relations, realizes the power of social media and now works with her team to interact with and respond to any type of online engagement within an hour.  This strong social media presence has positively affected the Kraft brand and has resulted in an increased amount of online conversations.  Last month, Kraft used Facebook to promote its rebranding of A1 Sauce.  The company decided to drop the “steak” because they felt it held consumers back from purchasing the Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 12.37.19 PMsauce for anything other than a steak marinade.  In a clever video posted on Facebook, A1 Sauce “broke-up” with steak, playing on the over sharing trend of millennials and social media.  The video received more than 700,000 views on YouTube and garnered a positive response from consumers and ad junkies alike.  Not to mention, the company has seen a double-digit, year-over-year sales growth since the campaign launched.

What elicited this change in Kraft’s engagement models? The death of traditional marketing campaigns.  As millennials are taking over, utilizing the digital space as a way to connect with consumers is becoming the norm.  Kraft’s ability to harness the power of digital advertising landed it a spot on Nielsen’s 2014 List of U.S Breakthrough Innovations.  Kraft is no longer a brand of the past but instead a brand pushing through and becoming more relevant now than ever before.  It is important that other brands take note and focus their attention on non-traditional advertising as well in order to win not only with millennials, but also with all Millennial Mindset® consumers.

What have we learned from Kraft?

1. Content Excellence® over creative excellence

The traditional method of creating an idea and expecting buzz to be generated around that idea is no longer working with millennials.  Now, it’s all about the content and what brands are doing to drive conversations with their consumers.  The A1 Sauce video is a great example of Content Excellence® and what successful brands are doing to give more substance to a creative idea and to add a voice to the campaign.

2. Adventure and experience

Eating is no longer just about food preparation and sitting down for a meal.  Now, millennials expect full culinary experiences with a range of flavors, textures and preparation styles.  Product line expansions like Jalapeno Cream Cheese allow customers to spice up more than their bagel, but rather, their entire flavor profile.

3. Brand innovation

To be successful in a marketing world that is constantly changing, brands need to be open to innovation and jump on trends as soon as they become noteworthy.  However, the best brands will jump on board before everyone else.  Kraft is planning to spend close to 50 percent of its budget on social marketing by 2016 (compared to the average 23-24 percent for the rest of the industry).  This innovation is proving to be a success for Kraft as it reinvents and rebuilds its social media presence.

4. Shareworthiness and participation

We know how important shareworthiness and participation are when it comes to Marketing to Millennials™. In order to generate buzz about a product, millennials need to have some sort of stake in the company.  That means they need to feel connected, involved and engaged with a brand.  Creating content and deliverables that consumers can share with each other drives conversation and turns consumers into brand ambassadors.

Leah Swartz and Adam VanParis contributed to this post.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Site MarcaKraft Recipes & A.1. Sauce New Friend Requests

If you liked this check out 3 Ways the Millennial Foodie is Changing the Food Industry.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.