No frills or fame, Cookpad is a global must-have for recipes
In 2013, Cookpad began developing sites and growing large audiences in other parts of Asia, as well as Africa, South America and Europe, eventually establishing a global headquarters in Bristol, UK. England. But his efforts in the United States – a mixture of translating Japanese recipes into English and trying to grow a user base organically – have been less successful.
“America is a really tough region when it comes to cooking,” Mr. Sano said. “Fewer people are cooking.” The nation ranked near the bottom in a 2020 Cookpad survey conducted with analytics firm Gallup to assess the average number of meals consumed at home, by country.
Mr Sano attributed this to Americans’ affinity for frozen and takeout meals, as well as watching food on TV, which he says can become a substitute for real cooking. Cookpad is successful in countries where cooking is more of a necessity than a diversion, Mr. Sano said.
As a result, the company has not invested much in its US site. The user interface is even simpler than its Japanese counterpart, without a premium subscription and a very basic search tool. In Japan, searching for a recipe on Google would likely bring up several pages of Cookpad hits, but the site barely shows up in recipe searches in the United States.
When the pandemic shutdowns began, Cookpad, like most online cooking platforms, experienced tremendous growth; the number of recipes in its database doubled in 2020, to eight million. But Americans still only represent a small percentage of users. (The company did not provide a figure.)
The United States “is a big country,” said Serkan Toto, a mobile and gaming industry analyst in Tokyo, with six time zones, “more than one language and a lot of cultural differences.” It would take millions of dollars of marketing, he said, to have a significant impact.