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01.09.2009 10:30 am

Foodies Say Bon Appetite

SUMMARY

Yahoo makes a play to attract advertising dollars by catering to the growing popularity of online food sites, opening a food and cooking web site called Yahoo! Food. The site provides 5,000 searchable recipes, instructional cooking videos and city-based restaurant dining guides and reviews, reports the Wall Street Journal.


 

Have you ever wanted to know how to carve a turkey? Now you can learn; just log on to Yahoo! Food and watch a video demonstration by Martha Stewart.  Want to know what kind of foods your favorite actors/celebrities enjoy?  Again, go online and browse through Yahoo! Food’s Celebrity Chow section to find out. The site is packed with a wealth of nutritious information. For the sites content, Yahoo! is mostly relying on partners like Food & Wine Magazine, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and Food Network, among others.  However, Yahoo! does have plans to incorporate more original content as well as other social networking elements into the site in the coming months. Currently, the site allows users rate recipes, submit comments, and search by ingredients, cuisines and foods by occasion, taste or mealtime. Interestingly, the introduction of this site comes at a time when leading competitor sites like Food Network, Epicurious, AllRecipes and few others are gaining an important foothold in the food lovers market.  Yahoo! Food will have to serve up some good content to attract faithful users.

THE PLAY

Food is an important ingredient in our daily lives. Not only do we consume it, we share it with our friends, colleagues and loved ones through cooking or dining experiences. You are probably wondering what you can do to spice up the traditional turkey feast for Thanksgiving this year, right? Well, one way to discover some new tricks is to go online and watch a video demonstration of a top chef preparing Spiced Rubbed Turkey.  These food sites provide a step by step preparation guide in full text description at the bottom of the video. Could this make cooking any easier?

Food web sites have been around for sometime and have been quick to employ interactive media like videos and photos as well as social networking elements like user ratings, reviews, discussion boards and blogs.  These elements enable consumers to interact and share their experiences with each other. Go on and rate your favorite dish, post comments or share your very own recipes.

According to comSocre Media Metrix, 39 million Americans visited food web sites in July 2006, up 23% from last year. Recipe sharing sites and those that enable users to share dining experiences have the biggest traffic. In addition, internet users who are above 25 years old are most likely to visit food sites. Of the food web sites looked at, Food Network led the category receiving more than 7 million unique visitors. Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious, said that the site had 3.5 million unique visitors in October and more than 42 million page views, reports the BusinessWeek. The site is one of the oldest and most popular user-generated food sites, drawing around 25,000 recipes from users. Both Food Network and Epicurious have features that let users send recipes and lists of ingredients to cell phones via text messages.

Yahoo!’s entry into the food category is seen as the latest attempt to appeal to niche lifestyle categories, adding to its growing list of niche services. Scott Moore, Head of News and Information for Yahoo! Media Group, estimates that consumer packaged goods companies, which are potential advertisers to the site, will spend more than $900 million in online advertising in 2007. At the moment, the site already hosts blue-chip advertisers like Kraft Foods, Masterfoods USA, Sheraton Hotels and Lending Tree. Generally speaking, the online food sector presents an exciting opportunity for brand marketers to target relevant ads due to the lifestyle nature of the industry.

The social phenomenon of user-generated content has resulted in a number of food blogs as well as social networking sites. For instance, BakeSpace is a social networking site for chefs and bakers, where users can meet new friends, swap recipes, access cookbooks, personalize online kitchen and share experiences with other members. Another recently launched food site called Chow (owned by CNET) is targeting a younger audience. The site posts stories and fun user questions as well as has a feature where users can find like-minded dinner companions.  We may soon see more of these niche food sites popping up. It's all good for food lovers out there uttering the common phrase, 'Bon Appetite'.

You can search a lot of cooking tips online, but here's my favorite tip to all diners: one cannot think well, love well or sleep well if one has not dined well.

Resources: Wall Street Journal, Business Week, New York Times


Bob Rattivarakorn
Trends Research Analyst
RarePlay

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