Millennial-ized market means Kraft Dinner is now KD

Low-risk name change drives brand update across 27 products

There is no more “raft inner” in one of Kraft Canada most beloved products, as the company has changed the name of Kraft Dinner to its more commonly used descriptor, KD.

The new packaging will maintain the product’s recognizable blue and yellow colour scheme, albeit with a visual update designed to help it appeal to millennials who grew up eating the product, but have drifted away in recent years.

The name change impacts all 27 SKUs in the KD portfolio, including the Spicy Cheddar and two kid-oriented shapes products introduced in March 2014. The new packaging began rolling out this week with a preliminary emphasis on the core product, and will continue into 2016.

KD brand director Kristen Eyre said that while the product still boasts 92% awareness and a presence in more than half of Canadian pantries, there has been a softening of relevancy metrics among millennial families.

Research found that while Kraft Dinner has an “incredibly strong association” with childhood, consumers indicated they had outgrown the product either emotionally or functionally. Testing also revealed declines in metrics such as “Brand for me” in the past year.

In reality, the new “KD” name is a formal adoption of the colloquial name for Kraft Dinner that has existed for years. The shortened form of the name has even been incorporated in marketing campaigns such as “Gotta be KD.”

Research conducted by Kraft found there is little risk associated with the name change: in unprompted questioning, more than 80% of Canadians said that “KD” stood for Kraft Dinner.

“It was pretty astonishing how pervasive the nickname was in the country,” said Eyre. “It was a huge a-ha [moment] because KD is a term of endearment and affection that Canadians give the brand in the way that we would give a nickname to our child, or our friends, or a pet.

“We thought, ‘why do we keep calling it Kraft Dinner if Canadians don’t call it that themselves,’” she said.

KD Rebrand_Kardinal

Kraft is promoting the product through digital, social media and experiential marketing. That includes a partnership with Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishal, who changed his name to Kardinal D’Offishall – or “KD” for short – while on a media tour promoting the new product.

“He’s such an embodiment of the brand: he’s a proud Canadian and he’s fun-loving,” said Eyre of the initiative, which was spearheaded by Kraft’s PR agency, Edelman. “It was something he was excited to do because of the role KD has played in his life.

“He’s a great fit for the brand and a real embodiment of the role KD plays in the lives of Canadians.”

The company also created a “pop-up pantry” in downtown Toronto Thursday, where it distributed free boxes of the new product.

Future marketing plans will emphasize social, digital and experiential, said Eyre. “We’re speaking to millennials where they’re spending their time,” she said. “They’re spending their time in social and digital and out-and-about, versus traditional media.”

Marketing partners include Taxi and Mosaic. Media for the brand is handled by Starcom MediaVest Group.

The name change comes amid a major shakeup for the KD brand. Earlier this year, Kraft announced that it would remove artificial colours from KD and its U.S. counterpart Kraft Macaroni & Cheese by the end of 2016.

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