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McCormick serves up recipes through new Food.com app

Food.com app

Food.com's new app uses location-based information

McCormick & Co. is sponsoring the launch of the Food.com app, the latest and most comprehensive meal-planning platform from Scripps Networks Interactive.

The new app delivers access to Food.com’s library of 500,000 recipes, enables in-depth mean-planning functionality and serves location-based grocery offers from brand partners. It also marks another first-mover foray into mobile marketing for McCormick, a food and seasonings marketer that has been a leader in location-based marketing through its Zatarain’s brand. 

“We are starting with McCormick as our core partner,” said Ann Lundberg, senior vice president of food and cooking at Scripps. “You really cannot cook without spices, so they are a logical partner to launch something around recipes and meal planning and shopping.” 

Knoxville, TN-based Scripps Networks Interactive also owns and operates Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, Travel Channel and Great American Country. The Food.com app was launched for iOS only, and an Android version is planned for early 2015.  

Expertise through acquisition
As has been the case for other companies seeking to expand in the mobile space, Scripps was able to obtain the expertise to build the Food.com app through an acquisition. In this case, it was the purchase of Austin, TX-based Food on the Table, which had developed a highly functional app with 80 percent of the nation’s grocers geo-fenced and a technology for serving native advertising.

“Right now it is the backbone of the Food.com app,” said Ms. Lundberg. “This technology ultimately will be behind the Food Network In the Kitchen app and any other apps that we launch that relate to food and shopping.” 

The new Food.com app allows users to search and save recipes in a custom recipe box, build shopping lists and search for items on sale at local stores. Local grocers’ weekly circulars are served through the location-based capabilities, giving users the ability to browse for deals from within the app and see sale items in the context of their shopping lists. 

The new app from Food.com also offers grocery brands an in-store marketing program geared specifically for mobile shoppers, Ms. Lundberg said. 

“What’s really cool about the Food.com app is that we have a unique native mobile ad opportunity, so they have an opportunity to be integrated beyond banners” she said.

In McCormick’s case, the company’s recipes are integrated in different ways within the app, and the marketer also has traditional ads in the mix. 

“They have a combination of approaches to the consumer,” Ms. Lundberg said. “Because we are in launch mode, we are in test mode with McCormick. They are open to a lot of different approaches, which is what made them a wonderful launch partner.” 

The McCormick ads and recipe links appear regularly as users scroll through the app's menus, and are clearly identified as sponsored elements. McCormick, based in Sparks, MD, was not available for comment on the Food.com launch sponsorship.

McCormick embraces mobile 
Earlier this year, McCormick claimed to have the first consumer packaged goods brand to leverage beacon technology to engage directly with shoppers in stores. The in-app beacon campaign for McCormick’s Zatarain’s brand allowed shoppers to receive grocery-list reminders and loyalty points from the food and spice brand on their mobile phones (see story).

Zatarain’s leverages inMarket’s Mobile to Mortar beacon platform, which launched in January, to drive shoppers to its products when they are inside a store. The retailer network initially rolled out in 150 grocery stores in Seattle, San Francisco and Cleveland. 

McCormick also recently launched a “FlavorPrint” function on its Web sites, which serves up suggested recipes based on a 20-question survey about food preferences. Users can further refine their recipe suggestions from the FlavorPrint platform by answering additional questions about foods they enjoy, foods they have on-hand, types of cooking tools they have and styles of cooking they prefer. 

The end result is a unique flavor “fingerprint” that is conveyed through a distinct visual mark, which has 33 “spikes” to represent different flavors in a user’s personal flavor profile. The bigger the spike, the more prominent the flavor. 

In marketing through the Food.com app and its location-based capabilities, McCormick is seeking to remain top of mind for consumers from the early planning stages of meal preparation through the point of sale.

“Ultimately the vision of this is that is going to get the consumer from the inspiration at home right to the action — the moment of truth at the shelf,” said Ms. Lundberg. “McCormick is very forward-leaning in testing those types of capabilities.” 

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Advertising, Food.com, Scripps Networks Interactive, Ann Lundberg, McCormick, FlavorPrint

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