Best Commercial - August 2021 Edition


Hello A.J. Kamdar, thank you for having us. Would you like to tell our readers about your career until you made your first film as writer and director?

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my background, my interest in film and the future of my company Kitchen Crafted with your readers. My career spans over 25 years working primarily in the areas of brand management, consumer insights and marketing analytics.

I was fortunate to fine tune my skills working at global multinational companies including: Mondelez, Capital One and Essilor/ Luxottica and later created my own consultancy firm, Summitry Global.

My expertise is understanding the consumer attitudes, behaviors and psychology in identifying the critical levers that drive a purchase. The approaches I use are rooted in advanced analytics and we pioneered a predictive software that could simulate with great accuracy what the revenue potential of a new product can attain, based on a diverse set of variables. It’s very quantitative/analytical and that’s what my expertise resided in.

This technical background actually was instrumental in the creation of my first exploration into film, A Day In The Life Of Nadia Mejia.

What do you think of the impact of technology on consumer habits?

I believe that technology has a monumental impact on how consumers shop in today’s global economy. Consumers are more connected to brands then ever before. There is a certain level of empowerment and consumers have unlimited access to information.

Social/Digital media have given people a bigger voice and new channels to speak to brands and share their opinions with their peers. Everything is on-demand, and everyone is looking for easy and convenient. Mobile/E-Commerce shopping is growing exponentially, and consumers are flooded with an incredible excess of products to select from.

We are seeing more immersive virtual shopping experiences through the advent of AR/AI technology. Consumers are doing their due diligence through their own market research and comparison shopping is the norm. As a result, the job of a marketer has become increasingly more challenging.

Tell us a little about the creation of your brand Kitchen Crafted?

Absolutely! The idea of Kitchen Crafted was hatched back in 2018 and it was a family affair. As mentioned, I have been fortunate to consult to some of the largest food companies in the world, such as Kraft, Nestle, Nabisco…

My dad was retired and for as long as I can remember, he was always cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. He was born in India and has an incredible knowledge of spices and their medicinal benefits. He created a number of custom spice blends/rubs that were globally inspired, right in his own kitchen.

He always received great feedback from family and friends and five years ago, a light bulb went off in my head. I had all this knowledge base about the food industry and wanted to create my own food brand and get it to market. The trends in the US were ideal, as there was an influx of flavor seekers and mindful eaters emerging. We created four spice blends and worked with a co-packer to produce a small sample batch. We did extensive product-testing, received excellent feedback, and moved to launch.

We worked with a well-known ad agency on the branding and voila! We had our first product launch! Having virtually no experience on the retail-side and trying to achieve store distribution, I just hustled and spoke to as many people as possible. We had a first big break with a local retailer in our home state of Florida and it just snowballed.

We officially launched in 2019, and three years later we have a US national footprint of over 2,000 stores with the biggest and most popular grocers in the country. We also invested in E-Com, primarily on Amazon/Kitchen Crafted website, and have done very well in this space as well. We are up to 12 globally inspired spice blends and planning more.

This passion has been the hardest and most challenging endeavor I have undertaken. At the same time, it has been the most intrinsically rewarding.

How do you think that interactive advertisement can affect the way a consumer relates to a brand? Have you been approached by other brands about creating interactive campaigns?

As mentioned, I am very schooled in consumer research and that was the genesis for the creation of our film. That we know of, an interactive and shoppable food film did not exist prior to ours. Certainly no one was using AI cloud-based platforms to create shoppable films. We were seeing a lot of traditional social/digital approaches to brand/product advertising. Lots of Tasty/Buzzfeed video-style recipes.

In today’s society, harnessing and leveraging immersive technology puts you at the forefront of creating engaging experiences for your audience, especially the Gen Z/Millennial audiences. Our partners, DCCAPTL, are at the forefront of this technology working with many musicians and high-end fashion brands. Which is further proof point this medium is helping to shape future shopping. It also reinforces how Nadia, who plays in many adjacent and complementary spaces to food (fashion, music, fitness), allows us to build storylines around her and move in many directions.

We went counter to popular culture that focuses on quick, 15 to 30 second-spots, tries to consolidate a wealth of visuals/product benefits and push it out on social/digital/tv and other channels. This film is based on System 1 Research – which is rooted in Nobel Prize psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s book, "Thinking. Fast and Slow". Its premise focuses on the instinctual, intuitive and spontaneous decision making of the human mind. That’s why I built an interactive and shoppable film!

I am the founder of Kitchen Crafted and exclusive to our company, so competitive advantage in a sea of noise and clutter is paramount. I am sure we will see variations/iterations on shoppable films to come without my consultation. It’s the wave of the future.

After the effects of Covid on lifestyle in the Global West wear out, don’t you think people will want to get back to more community and “real life” (vs. “virtual”) oriented ways to shop for food?

Without a doubt. McKinsey reported that Americans are beginning to spend again, with some 51% of consumers reporting a desire to splurge and indulge in a fit of post-pandemic revenge spending. The pandemic ushered in an unprecedented level of channel switching and brand loyalty disruption, creating opportunities for us.

In the last few months, Kitchen Crafted has seen a surge of in-store purchases across the US. We were fortunate that our business thrived in the pandemic, as we saw more consumers turn to experimenting in the kitchen and “inspiring their inner chef”.

Online shopping/delivery increased significantly during the pandemic for us and we expect to see that trend sustain. It’s critical to maximize our omni-channel presence as we are seeing “hybrid” shoppers looking for seamless experiences when shopping in-store or online and engaging in both.