Looking back to a post we made in 2009 on Kraft’s mission to sell Oreos in China, we’ve seen some major progress, according to this recent NPR story. In fact, The Oreo has become the best-selling cookie in China.
Kraft initially responded to Chinese taste buds by reducing sugar content in the cookies. For the masses, it was too sweet. They took further steps by looking at other flavors the market craved, resulting in Oreos with green-tea and mango flavored filling. They also changed the shape to resemble a rolled wafer, much easier to eat in the traditional Oreo fashion for a country that isn’t accustomed to “dunking” their cookies in (soy) milk. The imprint Americans have for eating Oreos (“Twist, Lick, Dunk”) doesn’t exist in China. To address this, “Oreo launched a series of TV ads where cute children demonstrate to their parents and other adults how to eat an Oreo cookie in the American style,” says the NPR story, effectively teaching children and adults at the same time.
Lorna Davis, head of the global biscuit division at Kraft, told NPR what she learned:
Any foreign company that comes to China and says, ‘There’s 1 1/2 billion people here, goody goody, and I only need 1 percent of that’ … [is] going to get into trouble. You have to understand how the consumer operates at a really detailed level.
Culture encompasses all the detail to which Davis refers. Culture informs the preferences we develop at a young age, which influences our behaviors for life.
What other foods have you seen undergo this kind of cultural transformation as it migrates from country to country?