Oreo: how a global brand adapted to local tastes

oreoOreo is the world’s favorite cookie in more than 100 countries worldwide. The Nabisco division of Mondelez International had more than $2 billion in global annual revenues for its Oreo brand. In 2012, Oreo celebrated its 100th birthday. While the cookie continues to be the most popular in the United States, new exotic flavors are sweeping the globe. Oreo’s Facebook page has more than 38 million followers from around the globe.

Mondelez’s ability to adapt to local tastes is important as it continues to look for overseas growth. In 2014, Mondelez’s international revenues more than doubled compared to its U.S. revenues. Oreo’s biggest markets ranking in order are United States, China, Venezuela, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, Central America and the Caribbean, United Kingdom and Argentina.

Global companies face a critical question when considering to enter a new market: how far should they go to localize their offerings to appeal to the local consumer? Mondelez introduced Oreo cookies to Central and Latin America in 1928 and then to Canada in 1949. In 2006, Mondelez offered a wafer cookie to Chinese consumers to familiarize them with the brand. Three years later, Mondelez worked with a Chinese consumer panel to determine the right combination of color, crunchiness, and bitterness to appeal to their tastes. The company re-engineered the traditional Oreo to be smaller and not so sweet. When Mondelez noticed their sales lagging, they introduced a green tea Oreo flavor in China that evokes eating ice cream by featuring a cooling sensation in the cream. Oreo is now the top-selling cookie in China with a market share of 13 percent.

Asia also has fruit duo Oreo cream fillings which include the side-by-side flavors of oreo chineseraspberry, blueberry, orange, mango, peach, and grape. In Indonesia, Oreo offers a chocolate and strawberry duo cookie. Meanwhile in Argentina, Oreo has introduced cookies with dulce de leche and banana cream filling. In Mexico, Oreo has three different combinations of chocolate with different chocolate flavored wafers as well as a cocoa cream filling.

This is an excerpt from the book by: Michael R Czinkota, Ilkka A Ronkainen, and Michael H. Moffett. Fundamentals of International Business (New York: Wessex, 2015), 19.