Product Localisation Taken to the Extreme

We all know that you may need to adapt your winning product in some way in order to successfully build its position in a foreign market. Cultural, linguistic, religious factors and the like, all help to influence people and to shape what they do or don’t like, prefer or desire.

Let’s take an extreme example. Many Westerners are partial to a Kit Kat. In the UK, Kit Kat is the number one brand both as a confectionery item and as a biscuit (or cookie). In Canada and the US, Kit Kats also feature in the top ten chocolate bar brands. But how would you British, Canadians or Americans fancy a soy sauce-flavoured Kit Kat? Perhaps not licking your lips quite so much now, are you?

In Japan, however, Nestlé has created a whole host of unusual flavours for its Kit Kat bars – among them soy sauce (the most popular nationwide), miso, green tea, wasabi, yubari melon, baked corn, sweet potato, cucumber, pickled plum, bubblegum and mango varieties. And it seems to have worked: Kit Kat is the No. 1 confectionery brand in Japan too.

Many of the flavours are considered regional, and therefore only sold in the Japanese region for which they were created – and often for a limited time only. This has built the brand into something of a phenomenon, with domestic travellers snapping up the unusual varieties as souvenirs or gifts.

A clever marketing strategy, right? Not only have they adapted their product to suit local tastes, they have chosen an unusual distribution strategy and created some real excitement around the brand. It’s certainly an interesting approach and gives us all, ahem, food for thought….!

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