Marketing

Kraft Mac & Cheese wants to be everyone’s comfort food— not just kids’

After years of marketing to families with kids, the brand is broadening its focus.
article cover

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

· less than 3 min read

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.

Remember when Pedialyte sort of acknowledged that the sick kids drinking its products are often just college students recovering from one too many Natty Lights? Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is having a similar reckoning, albeit one that involves fewer hangovers (we think).

This week, the brand debuted a campaign that positions its powdered-cheese concoctions as the ultimate comfort food for everyone, marking a departure from past marketing efforts that were mostly trying to reach families with kids. “We have just been so myopically focused on young children,” Matt Carpenter, marketing director at Kraft Heinz, told Marketing Brew.

Its new campaign isn’t so much about embracing comfort food, but rather comfort in “who you are,” he explained. “How can we champion that? And really, what can our role be to bring that to life as one of the preeminent comfort foods in America?”

The change partly stems from the pandemic and the fact that Kraft Mac & Cheese became more popular as people made meals at home. Plus, Carpenter told us a “pre-pandemic” statistic found 45% of households that buy its mac and cheese do not have kids. As of this month, 60% of households purchasing the brand don’t have children, per IRI.

According to Carpenter, last year’s “surge” in interest spurred the brand to “pause for a minute” to try and get a better understanding of its customers. “That was really the catalyst to really get down to who are these people? Are they empty nesters? Are they millennials? What is the dynamic? And why are they buying us?”

He said Kraft Mac & Cheese has spent the past year conducting interviews, focus groups, and research to learn more about who’s eating its mac and cheese and how they view the brand. “What we heard is there’s a familiar comfort with our consumers,” he said.

To be fair, this isn’t exactly the first time it’s tried targeting the 18+ crowd. Last year, its tongue-in-cheek #SendNoods promotion was quickly nixed after some found it to be too “sexualized.” But Carpenter said that Kraft Mac & Cheese is going all-in on its latest push, dedicating much of its marketing budget for the next year on campaign assets “predominantly based on these foundations.”

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.