You Will Never Cook the Same Way Again

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of attending TechTrek at America’s Test Kitchen (ATK).

IMG_7726.JPGPrior to this event, I was unfamiliar with ATK and did not think a firm that posted recipes could differentiate themselves in such a competitive market. I could not have been more wrong. ATK is launching a new media venture to revive their company. During our visit to ATK, we had the pleasure to meet with the numerous executives in the firm, including the Director of Finance (and BC Alum), Jason Cote and Chief Digital Officer, Fran Middleton. For me, that was the first time I had ever met or had a presentation from a CDO. The presentation ATK put on was phenomenal. Other than the fact we were provided fresh cookies, steak, and pancakes, the presentation of the future of ATK was extremely eye opening. So before I go too deep into my post, what is ATK?

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America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Their mission is to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. Now, this may seem like any other cookbook or website to get recipes off of. However, ATK will pump thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to create the best recipe for you. ATK really pays attention to details and ensures that their recipe is the best. ATK attempts to replicate the customer experience as best as they can. For example, ATK purchases consumer ovens and fridges from retail stores (best buy, amazon, etc.) and also rate equipment for their users.

So what is this new media strategy? ATK has begun to take the next step and create a detailed digital strategy to stay ahead of their competitors and really interact with their customers. The readings from this week echo the same sentiment of how firms with a digital strategy and who know who their customers are the most successful. ATK is currently rebranding their three segments, America’s Test Kitchen, Cooks Country, and Cook’s Illustrated. ATK is honing in on who their customer is and trying to deliver superior service to their customers. Also, ATK is planning on rolling out a new mobile/tablet plan where people can access their content anywhere.

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ATK is attempting to “catch up” to everyone else in the industry by going digital. Personally, after seeing their presentation and operations, I was highly impressed with the work they are doing and am extremely excited to see how their media strategy will propel them into the future.

Personally, I think ATK is risk averse in trying new things and are playing a more conservative role. However, that is okay because they know their customer and their value proposition is delivering superior recipes that no one else can beat. From being inside their operations and exploring their website, I could not think of any places for improvement they have not already addressed. ATK understands their pain points and are attacking them with great tenacity. From their cookbooks to online recipes to tv shows, I know ATK will thrive in the future. As a matter of fact, after that presentation they gained one more loyal follower, and hopefully you guys check them out for yourselves!

A special thanks to Jason Cote, Fran Middleton, and the ATK team for hosting us, we hope to come back in the future!

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A special look inside their testing area!

IMG_1357.jpg Enjoying the delicious food provided!

For more information check out their website!

https://www.americastestkitchen.com/

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/

http://www.cookscountry.com/?extcode=MCHBDK1L0

http://www.onlinecookingschool.com/

 

12 comments

  1. Definitely something that interests me a lot!! Isn’t that what everyone always wanted? Yeah, it’s great to have 5 chocolate chip cookie recipes, but exactly how much sugar makes the perfect balance? How much flour does the batter get for its consistency? So many variables, and the campaign that ATK has developed thus far addresses that perfectly. I wonder how they will fare against competition in the future. Differentiation like this is key! Cheers yo!

  2. I can definitely understand why ATK has some “catching up” to do in terms of going digital. Being able to view their content on mobile and on social media is huge. With the prevalence of food pictures on Instagram, it is almost expected that ATK would have a large presence on platforms such as this, however, I have never heard of their account or thought to follow it. It will be interesting to see what they do going forward and whether this new digital strategy increases the awareness and popularity of ATK.

  3. Great post! The personalization and emphasis on customer experience that ATK offers is key to their differentiation. So many firms are in the same boat as ATK in trying to play “catch up” in their new media strategy. However, it’s good that ATK has been able to recognize that they can’t continue to avoid having a new media strategy, and the strategy that they shared with you and other BC students seems like it will be a successful one!

  4. Great post, Jam! Really well-written overview of the company, and an interesting topic! It still continues to surprise me how literally any kind of company has some valuable use for digital. Of course, for ATK, going mobile makes a lot of sense. It seems like they have a really strong operation and value proposition to make better known, and it will be interesting to see if we hear more from them/see them growing in the digital space in the near future!

  5. ajsalcetti · ·

    Nice post, and interesting to learn a little bit more about who ATK is and how they function. We get the Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazines at our house and I can attest they are very good recipes. This reminded me a bit of the McCormick spice group we discussed in class and how they are sort of reinventing themselves 120 years later. While not that old, ATK is trying to find ways to stay relevant and capture market share in the digital and competitive 21st century.

  6. Great post. It was really interesting to see your pictures and hear your thoughts after you got to spend time there, and I liked hearing information from an “insider.” The fact that ATK is doing more to develop and strengthen its media and digital strategy once again shows that no matter what company you are or what your services are, you can always be doing more with digital business. Before this semester, I wouldn’t really think that an organization like ATK would need to worry about a digital business strategy, but this course has taught me that every company should have one. I hope it pays off for ATK, I’ve been a fan of those recipes and shows for quite a while now!

  7. Great post. You’ve highlighted the significant role social media should be playing for all companies. While ATK does have some catching up to do, your blog post may be a good start! I also really appreciated the background of ATK because while I’ve heard of it before, I didn’t really understand (or appreciate) the concept.

  8. Nice post! Thanks for sharing your Tech Trek experience with ATK. I’m all about food, and even got a little hungry with all the pictures of food and thoughts of them making the best recipes of our most favorite foods. It is refreshing to hear how they are willing to invest good money into making that happen. I appreciate that they are honing in on the customer experience and I find it quite interesting to hear that they are using a digital strategy to stay ahead. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that they are going this route, this is where the business world’s thought process is heading, and no company wants to be left behind or looked at as though they can’t keep up with the times in order to interact with their consumer base in the most modern ways possible. It really just goes to show that there is truly a place for digital strategy everywhere.

  9. Gallaugher was talking about this visit today at lunch. Really wish I had joined you guys. Sounds like a cool place!

  10. I LOVE America’s Test Kitchen. Their recipes never fail as long as you follow their very specific instructions. One thing that’s interesting is that they keep 99% of their content behind a paywall. You can get some free recipes by following on insta, but most is hidden under a subscription service. So I wonder about this new app and if that means they are going to share more content for free. Their current app is pretty terrible.

  11. Awesome post! I had never heard of America’s Test Kitchen prior to this post, so it was definitely interesting to hear about. I agree that they need to be on mobile and social media, but seems like once they do start “catching up” they will be very successful. Their personalization seems like their key differentiator in the industry, but I agree with Caitlyn and wonder how their new app will work with the free vs. subscription based customers.

  12. I’m jealous you got to go! I planned on attending but was out of town. I wonder how America’s Test Kitchen plans on competing with products like Watson Analytics that use data to optimize recipes. Watson can even come up with meals/recipes for you based on what is already in your refrigerator. I’m definitely going to look more into ATK and I’m excited to watch their digital strategy roll out.

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