KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Kraft Foods isn't trying to sell anything at its Web site, the Kraft Interactive Kitchen (www.kraft.com), except good will, said Steve Tiberi, the company's brand manager for e-commerce.
And Kraft appears to be meeting its goal.
According to company research, 64% of the kitchen's visitors said the site increased their interest in Kraft, 35% said it didn't affect their interest and 0% said it had decreased their interest. Tiberi reported this data to attendees at Western Michigan University's 35th annual food marketing conference held here late last month. Another presentation during the same conference, by General Mills, outlined a different strategy involving on-line sales.
The Kraft Web site has already attracted about three million visitors, of whom 500,000 have become registered users of the site, according to Tiberi.
The more often people visit the site, the better they tend to feel about Kraft, he said. Out of the first-time visitors to the site, 66% described Kraft as a company they trust. That figure grew to 73% among those returning to the site for more than one visit.
"We want to create an engaging, interactive experience with added-value services for consumers," he said.
The result is a sort of food-focused women's magazine with a wide range of Internet-based capabilities. Visitors can browse for recipes based on what they like to cook. Or they can search for meal suggestions based on ingredients they're likely to have around the house.
The site will store these recipes for easy retrieval. What's more, it can even suggest recipes visitors might like, based on the ones they've used in the past, the same way Amazon.com recommends books to its regular customers.
Tiberi said the site provides cooks with "a sense of community." He added, "While our research shows that fewer consumers are cooking, it also shows that people feel good after they've served a home-cooked meal."
General Mills, in contrast, is selling items on the Web, according to Al Fan, the company's director of strategic initiatives and e-commerce, who spoke at the same session of the WMU conference.
But the company is only selling items available from its Better Crocker catalog on the site (www.bettycrocker.com), Fan said.