As a leading food company in Croatia, Podravka is also a provider of knowledge and advice for food preparation. Since 2003, when they started the online magazine coolinarika.com, they have been building a community of food lovers. Over the years, the website has become an impressive culinary social network and a go-to place for anyone looking for the answer to the eternal question ‘What to cook today?’ as well as ‘How?’.
Since the early years of Podravka, it was clear that the company’s goal was not only to produce food and sell it. From the start, the company has been active in providing resources for their consumers on how to use their products and how to enrich the culinary culture. They provided different cookbooks and made culinary TV shows. With the rise of the internet and computer use in the global population, the company recognized the need to embrace a new media channel, too.
In 2003, Podravka introduced two internet projects – the new podravka.com website and coolinarika.com. They were the result of the new development strategy and new interactive communication channels.
Podravka invested a lot in communication with their consumers, creating loyal followers, long before the boom of social networks, through the print media and television.
In a media statement from November 2003, when the project was officially launched, they wrote:
‘The success of the Culinary Studio section from Podravka’s former website has inspired us to devote more attention to the dialogue about the food and cuisine.
Podravka’s dynamic online magazine Coolinarika.com contains recipes, cooking tips, articles, and entertainment topical sections.
The website is fully interactive and user friendly to encourage the participation of a wide range of users. Coolinarika.com is a cookery website created by its users for other users, and Podravka’s role is only to facilitate the expressed desire of discussing issues related to nutrition and cooking’.
Less than a year later, the page was recognised for its quality by two renowned media experts. It received awards for the Best of the Best in Sports and Health Category in the National Internet Competition Vidi Web Top 100 and was recognized as one of the best 25 websites in Croatia, with the title of Top25 HR Web.
The growth of Coolinarika
What started as an online magazine, became an impressive community thanks to listening to consumers and watching global trends in communication.
A large part of the success comes from choosing the right partner for the task – Podravka worked on the project of coolinarika.com with the highly skilled professionals behind the Web.Burza company, later rebranded as Human. In 2010, they updated the website and made it more user friendly.
A few years later, they introduced the gamification and achievement-award system for the users and the impact was huge. The website was already a top culinary site in the region and with the new system, user engagement rose almost 50% compared to the year before.
The importance for the users is perhaps most clearly shown with real numbers. For instance, in 2009, the page had around 33.000 recipes. Today, it has 185.000! In 2018, celebrating 15 years, the page had over 123 million monthly visits from over 25 million users. For a country with a population of 4 million that’s quite impressive.
Why is coolinarika.com so popular? Because it is made for and by the users. It is informative, educational and fun. There are many other local sources of recipes, but coolinarika.com is more than just a recipe page. While the central topic is about food, the overall feeling of the page is light, easy to navigate and has one of the most important factor – a strong social proof.
A higher quality of content is easily reached because the large community decides if something is worth trying – by adding their versions, photos and comments as well as by including the recipes in their own virtual cookbooks.
My personal favourite is the cool factor filter which puts the most popular recipes (for the staple I searched) on the top of the list. Why? Because I know that many people tried the recipes and were satisfied with the result.
From a business point of view, coolinarika.com is an excellent medium for Podravka to approach food lovers and gain a valuable insight in their daily habits and needs which then can be followed by, for example, launching new products. From the users’ point of view, coolinarika.com is a relevant source of information and an active community of like-minded people.
This article is the 2nd part of the 3 part series about the Croatian food company Podravka. You can find the first article about Podravka here. The last part will be dedicated to the revolutionary Podravka’s product popular around the world – Vegeta.