Kashi Gets Web 2.0 Makeover

NEW YORK Kashi has re-launched its Web site as a community-style destination that it hopes will lure health-conscious users to interact and share.

The La Jolla, Calif.-based maker of organic snacks and foods worked with The Barbarian Group in Boston to rebuild the site, which features utilities for visitors looking to live more healthy lives. The company plans to roll out new tools in the coming months.

“We knew we had this loyal group of people who wanted to get healthier,” said Jeff Johnson, senior brand manager at Kashi. “It was more about how do we give them better tools to communicate with us and them and more imp with other like minded people on the same journey to health.”

With MySpace and Facebook grabbing headlines and drawing in tens of millions of users, several brands have recast their Web destinations as community-oriented sites. Coca-Cola turned its corporate site into a media-sharing community, while brands like Patron have launched social sites for users.

The remade Kashi.com represents an evolution in the way Kashi approaches its Web presence, said Johnson. Originally, it used the site mainly to showcase products before adding basic community features, such as allowing people to take a health pledge.

“We didn’t really figure it out well,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have enough functionality built into the site to let people easily communicate with us or with each other.”

Now, Kashi has tools to let users participate in daily health challenges, such as taking 30-minute walks or skipping coffee, while interacting with each other. The site also includes articles and recipes.

Barbarian Group built the site to be flexible enough to add tools based on visitor activity, something Rick Webb, the agency’s chief operating officer, claims is normally missing in brand sites.

“It’s very standard in the Web world of Silicon Valley, but never used on Madison Avenue,” he said.

But to entice visitors to use the Kashi site as their hub for wellness information, Kashi must to compete with established editorial and resource sites, from WebMD to health offerings from portals like Yahoo!. And it will need to do so as a brand’s Web site.

“I’m going to put us in the camp of the not-your-average brand,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of credibility with [consumers]. We’re not hitting them over the head trying to sell.”