Kraft, there’s more than just the blue box

In the U.S., when most people hear Kraft they naturally may think macaroni and cheese because it dominates the market in the United States.  But in developing countries, macaroni and cheese doesn’t have the same popularity and in turn is mostly an afterthought for Kraft.

For packaged food companies, it is a struggle to understand which products will be successful in emerging markets and how to appropriately market them internationally.  In these types of food packaging companies, there are challenges because food is typically seen as a large expression of culture.

Mike Mazzeo, a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellog School of Management is speaking about food when he says “It’s much more clearly tied with culture, so it’s much more difficult to penetrate our products in their markets.”

Another factor is that many countries already have strong local brands which are tough competition to food multinationals such as Kraft.

“Kraft, maker of Oscar Mayer meats, Ritz crackers and other household brands, retooled its developing-market efforts three years ago, moving away from a scattershot approach.”

Previously, Kraft was attempting to “plant flags all over the world” but now due to these challenges, Kraft has decided to change their campaign to focus on 10 “power” brands and 10 countries.  The aim here is to push brands that are most likely going to be easily translated across borders.

One of Kraft’s power brands is Tang, a powdered-drink which gained popularity in the U.S. around the 1960s and 1970s.  Even though its popularity in the U.S. has dropped, in developing markets from Brazil to China, Tang has become an international success with $750 million in annual sales.

In the article they stated, “Mac and cheese is iconic, but it’s not one of our 10 power brands,” Khosla said. That’s not the case for Tang, though, which is one of Kraft’s 10 power brands in developing countries, right up there with the powerhouse Oreo.”

Kraft has learned the importance of focusing products and advertising around the specific culture your company is entering for the best results.  To see more specific examples of other major packaged food companies and their experiences internationally, follow the link to this article by Los Angeles Times.

-Taylor Diehl

9 thoughts on “Kraft, there’s more than just the blue box

  1. I think it is important that Kraft recognized the need to market towards different cultures in order to sell products. If they want to be an international company they need to realize the differences between people of various culutures and their preferences when it comes to food. Marketing to different cultures is similar to marketing to different groups domestically as well. Certain products might need to be marketed differently to people in different regions, of different races, or of different ages. Using different marketing strategies or these different groups of people, whether nationally or internationally will help sell more products.

  2. It’s interesting that in the global scene, macaroni and cheese isn’t even one of Kraft’s top ten power brands. Goes to show how much of an impact the rest of the world has on global business – the global economy does not revolve around the U.S. Many companies have attempted to take their brand to the global market unchanged from the American version, and many companies have seen their product greeted with outrage at cultural boundaries that are accidentally crossed. I guess the most important thing to take out of this blog post is the importance of researching and knowing your audience.

  3. I was actually really surprised that Mac and Cheese wasn’t huge all over the world. It may be my ignorance as a consumer in the United States that makes me think this way, which is why I really was interested in the blogs about international marketing. It makes sense to push the products that may sell more in certain cultures, however that only demotes the products that are already not doing well in an international market. Financially it is probably the best way to go, however I think with a little innovation, some products could enter the powerhouse market, it may just take some time.

  4. This blog post has really opened my eyes to the fact that food, like all other products must be properly marketed not just locally but worldwide. I think it is brilliant for Kraft to create a list of the top 10 “power brands” to be even more recognizable. Kraft must have done a lot of research to develop this list of products that are universally recognizable and desired. Some other products on the list were cream cheese, Toblerone chocolate and crackers. To me, none of these products make any sense but this really is a testament to the fact that marketing is all about research and knowing your consumer.

  5. I recently had a first hand experience with this very topic, when I spent spring break down in the Dominican Republic. I was very intrigued by the recognizable brands (to me) in the ‘supermercado’. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Oreo were there. Coca-Cola and other soft drink products were there (although I have to mention that Diet Coke was called Coca-Cola Light). Captain Crunch was there. A lot of different liquors that are sold here in America were also sold there. It’s interesting to think that these companies must effectively create and cater to totally different markets (cultures) to be globally successful. I can’t imagine that this is an easy feat, assuming most (if not all) of the marketing teams/advertisers are here in the United States and have the American consumer mindset.

  6. This blog post is dealing with a very interesting topic. It seems unreal to me that someone would not automatically picture Macaroni and Cheese when the name Kraft is mentioned. This blog opened my eyes to Brand Awareness. Here in america we recall the blue box with every mention of kraft or even macaroni and cheese. In other companies they don’t recall this. The company had to do alot of research to actually make their products sell. They have to be aware of the other countries ideas of what they will recall. It is an excellent idea for them to focus on 10 products and promote them in different areas.

  7. This is a very intersting thing to think about. It is a surprise to me that macaroni and cheese is not one of the biggest revenue producers for Kraft. Even more surprising is that the product does not sell well around the world. Kraft has done a great job of expanding their business to other areas of food and under different names. When you think of Oreos you do not think of Kraft, you just think of Oreos as their own brand. However, Kraft will always be successful because of the reliabilty of their product. People identify with their products and usually remain dedicated to them throughout their life.

  8. This is an important blog that i have read. It is important to know what you are advertising, as well as who you are marketing to. The main idea that i recieved from this post is that you should always know your target market. Lets say for instance a kraft box is red, this box would not sell as well as would a blue box. The reason being branding and the brand and its quality. The consumer is paying more for this brand name, and they expect their product to be a certain way. If the product is not a certain way, you will loose customers. Some products should be marketed differently in cultures through out the world. Marketing is all about knowing your consumer, and knowing who you are targeting.

  9. Taylor, this is a great topic by itself, but you also did a fantastic job writing about it. Kraft is a very interesting company to keep an eye on these days. Their recent purchase of Cadbury has raised plenty of controversy – especially from their largest investor Mr. Buffett and his Berkshire – but if their CEO is right, the diversification will prove valuable to future growth.

    I’m interested to see what effects the acquisition has for products going international. Perhaps we will soon see some of the Cadbury products that are currently only available across the pond.

    Great post.
    – Terry

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