Posted by Abe Sauer on September 16, 2009 02:01 PM
One complaint often lobbed at global brand franchises is how they erase local flavor from the markets they enter. McDonald's in Houston, for example, is like McDonald's in Moscow. But many brands strive for local character.
For the upcoming Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival—a holiday during which mooncakes (round, lotus-paste-filled pastries) are traditionally eaten—Starbucks is offering a unique brand twist via its own Starbucks-branded mooncakes. (Not to be confused with Moon Pies.) Starbucks is also putting a non-Chinese spin on its flavors, offering green tea cheese, cranberry kiwi, caffe Colombia hazelnut cheese, caffe Verona vanilla blueberry, caffe Verona chocolate, and caffe Kenya citrus, among others.
Other brands have also joined the act. Haagen-Dazs, which has ice cream parlors in China, is offering their own creative take: Haagen-Dazs-branded ice cream mooncakes. Swensen’s brand is also offering ice cream cakes. Chocolatier Godiva is offering non-traditional, rich mooncake versions.
It appears even non-food brands are taking advantage. Last year computer hardware maker AMD simply sent around generic mooncakes in an AMD-branded box. And this year Nokia released a special cell-phone mooncake set. Yum. Recharging!
Brands such as Starbucks, popular at home, are wise to pursue these kinds of localized brand efforts abroad—even if everything seems foreign at first.