Brands are delivering cooking recipes to craving consumers like never before

Brands creating food-related content is not new. But due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we can see a massive increase in cooking-related content. caught up with Amul, KFC, Big Bazaar, chef Ranveer Brar, lifestyle platform Gobble and digital agency Blink Digital to analyse the growth of the branded cookery content space in India and the art of creating food content

Akansha Srivastava
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Everyone must have come across social media posts of people cooking or posting pictures and sharing recipes of their favourite dishes. When the lockdown was clamped, all of us were faced with the challenge of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and started looking out for things that keep us calm, give us little joys and help us spend time with family. One of the activities that interest people is cooking and baking, which is giving birth to many budding chefs at home.

According to recent Google Trends Data, overall recipe-related searches grew by 20% on YouTube during the lockdown period.

Pawan Sarda

Pawan Sarda, Group Head, Digital, Future Group, said, “Cooking seems like a stress buster. People are using it to enhance their cooking skills during the lockdown.”

Moksh Chopra

“More and more people are turning to online and social media for inspiration on cooking techniques, recipes, etc., apart from just engagement and entertainment. It seems like everyone is discovering their ‘inner chef’ and getting creative in the kitchen like never before, leading to a surge in user-generated content on cooking,” said Moksh Chopra, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC India. 

Making the most of this rising consumer behaviour, not just the food-related names, but brands across categories are taking note of this trend and have started creating engaging content initiatives offering food ideas, recipes and cooking contests to fulfil this increased appetite for food content of people online. 

Sonalika Mehra

Emphasising the growing trend of food-related search on the internet and why is it an opportunity for brands, Sonalika Mehra, Channel Manager, Gobble, Pocket Aces’ Lifestyle platform, said, “In the current times, we are seeing a widening reach for food-related content. People who have never cooked before are now preparing all their meals from scratch. This gives brands a unique opportunity to expand their target audience. Further, with the lack of several offline entertainment options, people are consuming a lot of digital content, which makes content integration and digital campaigns a big area of focus for marketers right now.”

Amul has been a frontrunner of cookery content during the lockdown. Since April-mid, it has been creating live recipe videos with chefs across the globe on its Amul Facebook page, which has over 15 lakh followers. Since April, the brand has created more than 25,000 minutes of original content. Every Live recipe video has got an average of 4-5 lakh views, with some even crossing 45 lakh views.

Jayen Mehta

Jayen Mehta, Senior General Manager, Planning and Marketing, GCMMF (Amul), said, “Till today, we have done more than 550 Live recipe shows and plan to continue the same as our schedules are packed for the next four weeks. We have reached 50 crore accounts on Facebook over the last 50 days. Our average reach is more than one crore every day. On an average, 15-20 lakh minutes of Amul recipe content is being viewed on Facebook daily. This is perhaps the biggest and largest Live recipe show anywhere in the world.”

Sarda of Big Future Group told that Big Bazaar’s food YouTube channel ‘Cook Along’ is seeing a surge in viewership since the lockdown happened.

Gobble’s Mehra said that pre-Covid, people used food content primarily for inspiration and entertainment. The audience saved recipes and would try to get back to them when they had more time. “During these times, with people having more time at hand, we saw many of them trying out our recipes the same day they were released using our campaign hashtags,” she added.

Gobble has been working with FMCG brands, including beverage clients, during this period. Mehra said the lockdown has given brands an opportunity to try newer things, experimental formats since all videos are being shot from home. Gobble is also trying fresh formats like Instagram Lives.

With brands focussing on creating more and more food content, these times have been full of opportunities for food influencers also. India’s celebrity chef Ranveer Brar told that he has seen a rise of 40% in brand partnerships YoY.

A few other brands like ITC Foods, Nestle, Hershey’s and Reliance Fresh in the food and beverage categories have increased the frequency of producing cooking and baking-related content. In fact, a few brands such as Wakefit, Araldite, which do not belong to the F&B category, are also creating food content in order to engage with the consumers.

Ranveer brar

Seconding how not just food but non-food brands are picking up the trend, chef Brar, said, “We realised that food as a content driver was utilised by non-food brands to convey their messages because of the relevance of cooking in lockdown. Food is not just about learning a recipe but about people coming together. Any brand that stands for people coming together can lend itself organically well to a cooking video. Food is also about the moments that we share. It is about relationships. Any brand that emphasises on relationships has easy access to food videos.”

Know how to woo the audience through your food content marketing effort

There’s no denying that good food-related content has the potential to draw eyeballs and much-needed engagement. Creating a food content marketing campaign involves a proper understanding of the audience and delivering food content they desire and can cook easily at home. Consider the points below in order to maximise ROI through your food content strategy.

1. Trust the chefs during Live cooking:

Amul’s Mehta said that having trust in your chef while creating live food content is very important. He said, “Live cooking is a very immersive experience and also facilitates live Q&A. This conversation between the chefs and their audience has been the most engaging part of the activity.”

2. Know your audience’s preferences:

Knowing what content your audience wants to consume is one very important factor in determining the content strategy. Sarda said that one shouldn’t create content just for the sake of it. Therefore, things like polls can be used effectively to know what your consumers want and create content accordingly.

3. Educate consumers on the usage of the brand product in recipes:

Rikki Agarwal

Rikki Agarwal, Co-Founder, Chief Business and Operating Officer from Blink Digital, said that it is essential for brands to help consumers use their products as an ingredient in their food items they are preparing. He said, “For brands that are ingredient-led, it’s important they become or aid people on what they can work with their ingredients. So food innovation with their ingredients is something they need to focus on.”

Recently, Blink Digital executed the campaign ‘KFC Home Kitchen’ for KFC, where the brand encouraged foodies to innovate and experiment with their food. One just had to order food from KFC and re-create their own dishes at home and post about it on social media tagging KFC official pages and using hashtag #KFCHomeKitchen.

Chopra of KFC added, “There were some fabulous dishes created using KFC signatures like popcorn chicken, boneless strips and others. A KFC Insta Noodles recipe, Chicken Stroganoff, a Crispy chicken sandwich and an amazing Chicken Shepherd’s Pie; to name a few. We were blown away by some of these ideas and in fact, was discussing with my team that some of these creations may have made the Colonel proud! Who knows – they make it to our menu one day!”

4. Create food content for beginners as well as experts:

Brands must consider that people are engaging with their cooking-related contests because they are looking for creative challenges as a creative outlet to cope up with Covid stress. Agarwal said, “Those trying it mainly fall into two categories—beginners and expert cooks. For most beginners who might be trying cooking for the first time, the recipes need to be simple to give them the confidence to proceed. Expert cooks on are looking at levelling up their culinary skills and so complex recipes with a higher technicality level would be welcomed by them.”

5. Relatability and accessibility during the lockdown:

Mehra said relatability and accessibility are integral to the content being created. “Being cautious of the limitations and availability of products will help audiences relate to the content more. Providing alternatives to ingredients, making the steps easy to follow are some easy ways to ensure one is able to do this. Another interesting way to create more content is re-purposing old content in a relevant manner.”

6. Don’t over-push the brand in content:

Chef Brar said that one thing that food brands should learn from the phone brands is giving creative freedom to the creator. He said, “The brands should allow the creator to take control of the content and give a very loose brief to him to allow the product to shine. The organic reach of such content is very high. A very strong brief with very limited creative elbow room denies an opportunity for the creator. This leads to a wrong loop because then the brand loses faith over the creator, the creator says the brand is not giving enough elbow room. The consumer doesn’t get good content and moves on to other content.”

Covid-19 lockdown Brands are delivering cooking recipes