Duncan Hines Debuts Search-based, Responsive Site for Bakers

Posted on by Patricia Odell

Duncan Hines has taken a radical approach to revitalizing its website for Bakers, straying far from the typical consumer-packaged goods branded website that relies heavily on predetermined category tabs and drop-down menu bars.

The most dramatic change at www.duncanhines.com is the disappearance of that global navigation bar. It has been replaced with a single search bar so baker’s can find what they are looking for far beyond predetermined categories, guided solely by inspiration. The search bar asks simply, “ What would you like to bake?”

Duncan Hines

The beautiful Pinterest-style imagery draws the visitor in and encourages browsing through the pages frosted with Duncan Hines and user-generated recipes (about 2,500) so far, tips, product shots and coupons that are routinely refreshed.

“The whole idea came from the fact that we work in a category where consumers are highly involved,” Andy Reichgut, senior vice president of marketing at Duncan Hines, said. “Like at lot of CPG categories, it’s not something consumers have to do, it’s something they want to do. So we created a place where they could get the inspiration they were looking for in a really relevant way.”

For example, a search under “Christmas Cakes” reveals a page filled with ideas such as the Duncan Hines Bakers ClubChristmas Tree Cake shared by Robert Reynolds that requires a box of Duncan Hines Red Velvet, cream cheese and pine branches made from sugar gum paste. Also on the page is a downloadable 50-cents off coupon for any one box of Holiday Velvets. To inspire users with related baked items, recipes for cupcakes, 2-Bite Snowballs and Cake Pops are also displayed.

“The site search is designed to make it search for inspiration rather than force them into predetermined content,” Reichgut said.

Reichgut give full credit for the redeveloped site and search-based, responsive design to digital agency Tenthwave, a 2013 PROMO Top Shop.

The site, which re-launched in October, displays many recipes contributed by Duncan Hines, but will ultimately rely heavily on user-generated content as more bakers begin to participate in the community.

“We are working toward having a big portion of recipes, reviews and comments supplied by bakers to create a really robust site for bakers by bakers,” he said.

To design the front-end and develop the back-end of the site, Tenthwave and Duncan Hines did a deep dive into the digital world that many bakers now live in and also relied heavily on the more than 300,000 current members of Duncan Hines’ Bakers Club for advice, Alex Ruiz, senior vice president of client services at Tenthwave, said.

Tenthwave spent four months with heavy bakers, used third-party research and conducted a full survey of the Duncan Hines Baker’s Club members asking questions like, why did they bake, what inspires them to bake and who are they baking for. That survey led to interviews with 30 to 40 bakers and insights that led to the site’s design, such as bakers are visual so the site is filled with the delicious images and that users like to rate or have peers rate their recipes. As an indication of the passion bakers have the response to the survey was beyond expectations.

“We had 15,000 respondents,” Ruiz said. “We would have been happy with 500.”

Tenthwave was able to identify key aspects of functionality to make the brand much more powerful for consumers, including the responsive design that has the ability to understand what the baker is interested in and deliver cumulative baking ideas to match that exact interest.

Duncan Hines is tracking a number of standard metrics: time spent on the site, up by more than 50% so far. Time spent on recipes is up 75% to 100% because users are getting recipes that are very relevant,” Reichgut said. It is also tracking site visits, up 20%, download times and recipe search.

There is some early correlation between the most popular recipes and spikes in store sales for those products and coupon redemption.

“We will be able to do that over time, but antidotally it seems to have a correlation,” Reichgut said.

Social—and Duncan Hines’ millions of friends, followers and pinners—has a big role in the site. For example, the home page promotes “Baking Season” with the hashtag #bakingseason. All of the recipes can be pinned, tweeted, emailed or liked. If a user bakes a recipe, he or she is encouraged to post a photo about it or comment on the recipe.

Duncan Hines Bakers Club

The site is fully optimized for mobile and Reichgut hopes that will play a big role while consumers are in stores.

“That’s one of the most exciting things, the site works perfectly with any mobile device so consumers can get ideas right in the stores,” Reichgut said.

Also in stores, the site is being promoted on various packaging.

“The site is off to a solid start,” he said. “This was a big change and you’re always nervous if we’ve alienated some users.”

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