Japan's Ezaki Glico aims to conquer world with Pocky stick snacks

Thu Nov 6, 2014 5:52pm EST
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By Chang-Ran Kim and Ritsuko Shimizu

OSAKA (Reuters) - For the first time in its 92-year history, Japanese snacks maker Ezaki Glico (2206.T: Quote) is getting serious about growing overseas, aiming to fatten its Pocky biscuit into a $1 billion brand to rival global giants such as Hershey's and Oreo.

The company's Glico brand and its 48-year-old stick-shaped, chocolate-coated Pocky pretzels are household names in Japan but elsewhere the marque has stalled, capping the firm's overseas business at just a tenth of its $3 billion revenue.

Now, the company is rewriting its branding and marketing strategies for Pocky, targeting a more than doubling in sales to $1 billion by 2020. Only 21 snack brands in the world belong to the billion-dollar club, none of them Asian.

The plan involves the adoption of the Pocky name everywhere except Europe, where a joint venture is complicating matters, plus uniform new packaging and a universal tagline: "Share Happiness".

"The hurdles are high, but if they succeed it would mean a huge boost to profits," said Tomonobu Tsunoyama, senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, the research arm of Tokai Tokyo Securities.

The task has fallen on Tsuyoshi Matsuki, appointed as global brand manager for Pocky, a post created in Thailand in 2012.

To strengthen the product's brand identity, Matsuki standardised the package design to a red box for regular chocolate-flavoured Pocky, and came up with the new marketing slogan. This year in Malaysia, he re-branded the snack from "Rocky", its name there for the past four decades.

"Sales were left mostly up to local distributors in Malaysia," Matsuki told Reuters at Ezaki Glico's office in Osaka. "Now, we're going to the stores directly for marketing and maybe next year we'll start running TV commercials to give brand recognition and sales a boost."   Continued...

An employee of Ezaki Glico walks past a map displaying the companies in the Global Glico Group at Glicopia East, a museum of the company located next to its Kitamoto factory, in Kitamoto, north of Tokyo October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato