Making global brands locally relevant at Pepsico

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is how to get the best return from global branding.

On the one hand, you need to drive for consistency to generate economies of scale. But on the other hand you need to be as relevant as possible to local tastes.

Pepsico seem to be getting this balance right with their $10 billion potato chips business, called Lays in the US and by local brand names in other countries.

Here are a few thoughts on what they do well.

1. Creating distinctive global assets

Pepsico have created a distinctive visual identity, called the "banner sun", that unifies their potato chip brands around the world. The most important benefit of doing this is to get a strong and distinctive identity rolled out around the world. This is what we call "economies of ideas". In addition, there are some economies of scale coming from all local brands having the same identity. Hopefully, money is not wasted on every country trying to come up with their own design.

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In addition to the visual identity, the potato chip brands also share a global activation platform, "Do us a Flavour", that invites consumers to invent flavours and win a share of the profits from them. This activation is run across multiple countries, with a total of 8 million entries to date.

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2. Keeping local brand names

Pepsico have decided to keep the local brand names, such as Walkers in the UK. They clearly think that these local brand names have some positive equity worth hanging onto. It also avoids the significant cost of having to do a global re-naming exercise. At the same time, the brands share a common identity as discussed above.

3. Adding local flavour

Where Pepsico really add local flavour is through their variant strategy. Key markets create and launch local flavours that tap into local food culture, such as Nori Seaweed (mmmmmm…) in Thailand and Picanha barbeue flavour in Brazil.

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In conclusion, Pepsico is an interesting example of a company that has managed to get a good balance betweem creating global brand assets, and injecting local flavour to be relevant in each market.