China is known to have a long history of snacking culture, and Wuhan in particular is known to be home to a wide variety of delicious and unique snacks, such as Mianwo, “salty donuts” made with rice flour and flavored with shallots, and flower-shaped shao mai dumplings with colorful fillings. This culinary tradition, along with a reputation as an economic and transportation hub, make Wuhan a strong choice as the site of PepsiCo sixth snacks plant in China.
China’s per capita consumption of snacks like Lay’s is less than one-tenth of the United States, and only about forty percent of Chinese households have tried Lay’s products, providing tremendous growth opportunity to expand our business. Our success hinges on our ability develop products that cater to local palates, as Chinese snacking culture is all about familiar tastes and variety.
Over the years, PepsiCo has launched many distinctive Lay’s potato chip flavors by using locally known ingredients such as cucumber and little tomato and drawing inspiration from Chinese dishes such as the ‘hot and sour fish soup’ of Sichuan to the ‘pepper and salt fried shrimp’ of Guangdong. These have become some of our top-selling flavors in China and will be produced at the plant in Wuhan.
Along with understanding taste, consumer insights have led us to develop packaging well-suited for local snacking behavior. For instance, Chinese consumers like to share their snacks, so our Lay’s Stax packaging was designed specifically for this. It has a plastic tray inside the canister, which not only facilitates sharing but also allows consumers to eat more discreetly with less noise and cleaner fingers.
But it’s not enough to just have locally relevant products and packaging that cater to local taste and preferences, we also need to have muscular brands that consumers can relate to and with which they’ll feel proud to be associated. We have accomplished this in 2 ways: First, by translating the Lay’s brand to have a unique and powerful meaning. Lay’s in Chinese is called ‘Le Shi’ which means Happy Things/Moments (Watch the video called “Bring Happiness Home” that capitalizes on this meaning and connects to other popular food and beverage brands in our portfolio). Second, by developing a powerful brand philosophy that echoes Chinese sentiment while establishing Lay’s as one of life’s irresistible little pleasures. The brand slogan has a double meaning in Chinese and connotes ‘Every little crisp/little moment could make you happy.’
With the opening of the Wuhan plant, we are ready to produce not only an exciting array of new products, but more importantly, inspire and spread many more ‘happy moments’ in China.