How ATAG is becoming a cook-centric organization from the inside out

ATAG, a daring brand. This article on engagement of stakeholders with the consumer world is quite different from our other cases. Why? This case shows how ATAG (a kitchen appliances manufacturer) – as a smaller player (in the footsteps of giants such as IKEA, eBay, Unilever, Mars, PepsiCo, Heinz…) – had the guts to invest in structural collaboration with end consumers.
The project’s final goal was to nourish and verify ATAG’s new company and brand strategy. 10, a creative agency, guided ATAG in the creation and implementation of the new brand strategy. To summarize, the management goals of the project were: ATAG wanted to move away from their appliance-driven thinking and make cook-centricity the key ingredient of their philosophy and actions. As you can imagine, this is quite a challenge, not something that can be changed overnight. It mainly requires a step-by-step approach and, more importantly, an approach which starts from the inside out. First, ATAG needs to internalize ‘cook centricity’ in every department, for every single employee. Only after accomplishing this change can ATAG start implementing the ‘cook centricity’ in their marketing to the world out there.

ATAG loves cooks.

This is the very core of the new brand strategy. To show that they were very serious about it, ATAG realized it was crucial to actually involve the ‘cooking fans’ they were going to put in their very center. That’s where a Consumer Consulting Board came in: we set up the ‘World of Cooking’ community, enabling a connection with 100 consumers (from Belgium and the Netherlands) who share a passion for cooking.
ATAG World of cooking community
We started with a 3-week wave to really get to the core of being a ‘cooking fanatic’, ending up with an overload of insights into how people live and practice this passion and what that means in terms of their kitchen environment and equipment. Very specifically, the different ‘hobby chef’ profiles (fun cook, social cook, semi-pro) are useful from different perspectives: product innovations targeted at specific profiles, communication adapted to the different needs, shop organization according to the profiles etc. One illustration: the community provided input for the ATAG marketing team very directly: next to crowdsourcing the input for new shop-in-shop, website and magazine content, the participants provided pictures of their own kitchens, which were published in the ATAG ‘COOK!’ magazine.

The Consumer Consulting Board project did not end there. During the further development of the new strategy and internal implementation, some new question marks and hypotheses related to the target group popped up. These new questions could easily be answered by re-activating the Consumer Consulting Board whenever needed.

Work from the inside out.

ATAG believes you should start from the ‘inside’ when evolving from an appliance-centered organization towards a cook-centric brand and company. So first priority was preaching the cook-centric story internally, before activating the consumers in the world out there. An important internal stakeholder for ATAG is the group of professional ‘kitchen shop’ owners. When hobby chefs visit their shops, the (ATAG) sales success mainly depends on the ability to find this target group’s soft spot. It can be a clear challenge, as not all kitchen shop owners can handle these ‘cooking fans’ (e.g. lack of knowledge, lack of cooking experience, lack of insight in the needs of this target group…). So next to organizing an internal workshop at ATAG to inform them about these ‘cooking fans’, supplementary trainings were planned for the ‘kitchen shop’ owners to share more insights from this target group and to put the insights into practice. Top ingredient of this additional training was the face-to-face contact with real participants of the ‘World of Cooking’ community. By participating together in a mixed group cooking workshop, the kitchen shop owners really immersed in the target group’s lives, an experience that was hard to forget.
Want to find out more on our consumer centricity approach? Read our brand new paper Why every company needs a Chief Consumer Officer and discover five steps to become a consumer-centric thinking company.

Special thanks to Denis Ghys, Managing Director & Strategy lead @ 10 and Martin Blom, Business Manager @ ATAG Nederland.

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