Kraft Dinner Masala: Adapting a classic for the multicultural market

As our final excerpt from Migration Nation, a new book from Environics Research Group’s Robin Brown and Kathy Cheng, Marketing presents a research-based case study on how Kraft Foods found a way to make a Canadian classic into something relevant and appealing for for those who didn’t grow up with the iconic box in their pantries.

KD1There’s probably no more iconic Canadian packaged food brand than Kraft Dinner.

Like all top brands, it generates strong feelings among consumers. It’s associated not only with convenience but also with comfort, childhood, and a kind of small-town simplicity that it leverages in its promotions, which are “Canadian Hockeyville” in tone and style. Though Kraft Dinner has a devoted constituency in multi-generational, culturally homogeneous Canada, this constituency is a diminishing part of Canada’s demographic landscape.

Migrants haven’t grown up with the blue-and-orange box in their pantries, and in many cases they aren’t predisposed to the taste of original “KD.” According to research we conducted for PepsiCo in 2011, 64% of the general Canadian population find cheese as a flavour “very appealing.” But only 34% of Chinese Canadians agree (49% among second-generation Chinese Canadians born in Canada).

Among South Asian Canadians, the proportion who find cheese flavour appealing (57%) is closer to the general population but still lower than the national average. These differences in palate (rooted in ethnic culture), alongside a lack of familiarity with the brand and even a lack of knowledge about how to prepare the boxed pasta (resulting from a total lack of pre-migration experiences with Kraft Dinner), represented clear barriers for the growth of the KD brand in Migration Nation. Kraft needed to find a way to encourage migrants to make KD part of their Settlement Journey in Canada.

Kraft went about this in two ways. First, it launched campaigns targeting Chinese and South Asian Canadians. Spokespeople Oliver Li and Smita Chandra were hired to speak to their respective communities and promote Kraft products in the kitchen through TV ads and other media. Kraft also built websites that appealed to Chinese and South Asian preferences and palates, while incorporating Kraft products. One notable recipe on the South Asian–focused Kraft Ka Khana website was for “KD Masala”—a formula for preparing Kraft Dinner with ingredients like garam masala and ground coriander. KD Masala epitomizes the “adaptation strategy” whereby core products and brands are adapted for continued relevance in a changing demographic and socio-cultural landscape..

Brands Articles

Ethnic insights at the heart of a total market strategy

Asking 'which cultural group should I target?' may put you on the wrong path

Pringles plays off Ontario elections

The brand forces its own issue onto the ballot: to dip, or not to dip?

Second Cup launches Flat White promotion

New espresso drink part of brand rejuvenation

Mountain Equipment Co-op launches MEC Outdoor Nation

Retailer aims to inspire youth to get outside

McDonald’s Canada takes on grocery

Partners with Kraft Canada to launch McCafe brand in supermarkets

The results of Apple’s free U2 download experiment

Company gets its "record breaking" headline, but many users rebel

Scion Sessions return with more short-film-styled music vids

Toyota brand bolsters connection with music, art and culture

Ford Canada wins the TIFF celebrity lottery

How the automaker maximized its TIFF sponsorship with A-listers

Apple’s U2 “offer” a bad PR misstep

Music-savvy brand misunderstood the personal importance of the playlist