NEW YORK: Kraft Foods is making greater use of mobile media and Apple's iPad to reach consumers in a "personal way."

Speaking at Advertising Week in New York, Ed Kaczmarek, the company's director of innovation and consumer experiences, argued understanding customers was the organisation's primary aim.

"At Kraft Foods, we always begin with consumer insights," said Kaczmarek. "Our products and build solutions that are relevant and meaningful. And this enables us to connect with our consumers in a more personal way."

He added: "In terms of priorities, the utility comes first, then the consumer experience and branding is third."

The changing habits and preferences exhibited among shoppers, and the range of information sources they employ, require a nuanced communications approach.

"We know people are always looking for tools and technology that can keep up with their multitasking and on-the-go lifestyles," Kaczmarek said.

"Our goal is to provide consumers with rich experiences, in-home, out-of-home and in-store … We've developed key consumer touchpoints that enable us to engage more directly with people - when and where it's most convenient."

Kraft's iFood Assistant, a paid-for mobile app containing recipes and other associated material launched in November 2008, is one example of this strategy.

"With iFood Assistant, we can provide consumers with inspiration consumers for timely food ideas whenever and wherever it's convenient - whether it's at home, at work or in the grocery store," Kaczmarek continued.

"It's about providing our consumers with tools to help them simplify their lives."

Over 60% of individuals who downloaded the second generation iFood Assistant were still utilising it six months later, rare in a category with a rapid turnover rate.

"In order to keep that engagement level, you need to stay relevant," Kaczmarek said.

Kraft even asked customers that had accessed the iFood Assistant 2.0 to offer opinions and suggestions, incorporating these views into the third iteration.

Resulting modifications included allowing visitors to upload their favourite dishes, and making it easier to share recipes via Facebook, the social network.

Another addition was digital coupons - alongside alternatives that can be printed out and reclaimed in-store - and empowering users to create virtual shopping lists by scanning barcodes.

Kraft has also now introduced a "Big Fork Little Fork" app on the iPad, carrying exclusive features, such as teaching aids for parents wanting to educate their children about cooking.

"We are convinced that, because of its unique interactive functionality and form factor, the iPad is going to bridge the gap and become the next kitchen device," Kaczmarek said.

"Using the iPad as platform for our Big Fork Little Fork content enables us to bring the content to life in a highly interactive way. And it allows parents to engage with the app both in the kitchen and around the home. We feel it's a huge win-win proposition."

In October, the company will unveil "Celebrity Chef Content Packs" for purchase through the same channel, boasting videos and culinary tips.

"We're leveraging technology like mobile platforms and the iPad to go beyond the functionality of our products and connect with consumers in a more personal and relevant way," Kaczmarek said.

Data sourced from Kraft; additional content by Warc staff