Lessons Learned from Chips

When I picked my friend up from the airport after a short-term study abroad session in Italy, I naturally asked how her trip was. She looked at me, smiled and said something along the lines of, “I have discovered the most delicious thing in the world.” I expected her to say fine Italian bread, or pastries, or anything along the lines of cultural food. With a mischievous grin, she opened her suitcase and there they were—three cans of her beloved Pringles Paprika chips. She was beaming! About 2 months later, I left for a study abroad trip and was in search of the Paprika chips to bring back as a gift. I bought some for myself and, though I hate to admit it, I too became hooked on the Paprika chips! After I was home for about two weeks, I began to crave them, so I went to the grocery store just to look around in hopes they would be there. Much to my disappointment, they weren’t. That same night I went to a cookout and tried a flavor of chips for the first time: Barbeque…wait, Paprika? Yes, you guessed it! Barbeque chips in the U.S. are the same as the Paprika chips in Europe! What a concept. Both Lays and Pringles knew “Barbeque” the way the U.S. knows it, wouldn’t make sense in Europe, so they decided to rename the chip!

Taking culture into consideration is vital when companies want to expand and market their product in other countries. Some products simply don’t translate. It is necessary to understand different markets and customer needs, or it could be a catastrophe. When embarking on an intercultural marketing campaign, it is essential that companies think about these scenarios. They may have to alter their product slightly, but it will translate more successfully. Though Lays and Pringles gave up the name “Barbeque,” they kept the idea of the chip and changed the name to the main ingredient in the chips, Paprika. Also, they had to note that “chips” in many countries are our “French fries,” and are instead referred to as “crisps.” Next on American shelves: the popular “ham” flavored chip from Spain, or the Mayonnaise Cheese flavored Pringles from Japan! Just kidding.

Rachel Kaylor