Oct 14, 2021

A closer look at PepsiCo's "glocal" pack design strategy

We discuss design trends, localisation, smart packaging and sustainability with PepsiCo's Gianmauro Vella, Senior Design Director for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa.
Elisabeth Skoda

Could you tell us a bit more about the China’s People’s Daily New Media collaboration? What were the key features in the design process?

Pepsi China joined hands with People’s Daily New Media newspaper to launch the “Everyday Heroes” campaign to show our gratitude and appreciation for the global team of heroes who have worked valiantly on the frontlines since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this campaign, Pepsi worked with People’s Daily New Media to launch the “Salute our Heroes: Limited Edition Gift Box” depicting four of the heroes fighting the pandemic — medical worker, takeaway deliveryman, volunteer, and front-line worker. The common spirit of “love” is a fundamental aspect of all of these heroes’ characters. This stylish and unique jointly-designed product featured a series of slogans saluting the heroes fighting the pandemic and were packaged with the style of newspaper typesetting, also boasting the dominant tones of the classic Pepsi red and blue.

Are there any other recent examples of localised campaigns in the Asia Pacific region you could talk about?

Our approach with our food and beverage portfolio is “glocal,” meaning we adapt and translate global brands to ensure they are locally relevant and meeting the needs of local consumers. This ‘glocal’ strategy results in design work that truly reflects local pride. Our design team is embedded within the markets, which helps us understand how to create something that feels authentic. We have a few great recent examples of this approach to showcase with our Lay’s and Quaker brands, which are global brands that are expanding their reach by providing ingredients and offerings that are localized to the Asia Pacific region.

There are numerous local cuisines and food traditions in China, and with Lay’s we’ve introduced a number of regional flavor offerings. Taking flavor inspiration from two regional cities, Beijing and Chengdu, we created two Lay’s packs that brought out the vibrant spirit of these two iconic locations: Beijing Roast Duck and Spicy Sichuan Chicken flavors. The packs were designed with bold colors and recognizable landmarks in a paper cut style inspired by travel diaries. We also recently launched Lay’s STAX Inclusion, a new line of gourmet potato chips available in China. As people are looking for more premium snacks, Lay’s wanted to introduce a new line of potato chips with unique flavors and ingredients that would resonate with local tastes like rose petals, chili peppers, and seaweed.

We’ve also launched several Quaker products in China to tap into local consumers trends around healthier, functional, convenient food choices. Quaker Collagen Granola and Quaker Lactic Granola were developed with a few simple ingredients and functional additions like a nourishing collagen protein supplement and lactic yogurt. Our design solutions think outside the category and integrate elements of natural organic beauty and bespoke fashion brands. Flavor cues are highlighted by showcasing the delicious vine-ripened ingredients. The color palette is bohemian chic, blooming with blossom pink, dragon-fruit purple and cranberry red. While the design is restrained, it’s bursting with energy and flavor. We wanted to signal both nutrition and flavor, as well as convenience and deliciousness.  

Have you identified any difference in on-pack design trends for the Western market vs the Asia Pacific market? Do you have any examples of designs that sell well in one area and not at all in the other?

We live in a global ecosystem where people are exposed to global trends that are then adapted to local markets. The beautiful thing about placing products in local contexts is that semiotic is sometimes very different and extremely important, from colors to finishing and decorative elements. There are conventional aspects of semiotic that are the same everywhere in the world. For example, if you use a photo with a lot of chips you’re suggesting abundance, whereas one chip suggests premium/hero. But then there are aspects like the usage of white. In the West, it’s mainly associated with premium, health and minimalism, but in China it’s associated with funerary elements. Similarly, the usage of characters in China can appeal to young adults, but in the Western market might be seen as too cute or for kids only.

I’ve heard that the Asia Pacific region is leading the way with connected packaging (such as QR codes on pack). Has Pepsi been involved in any notable connected packaging projects recently?

Yes – the Asia Pacific market is definitely a leader on connected packaging. For Pepsi’s latest “Every Summer” campaign, we are leveraging AR technology to enhance the consumer experience. People can scan a dedicated QR code or simply center the Pepsi Logo with the scanner to trigger an augmented reality experience. The QR code is also being utilized as a brand portal, bringing consumers to Pepsi’s dedicated WeChat platform where they can engage with the brand and participate in a loyalty program to collect points and retrieve prizes. These types of media to shelf experiences help create multidimensional touchpoints for consumers with our brands, and we are absolutely planning to do more of it in the future.

Sustainability has become a growing important factor for packaging development all around the globe. How does the drive towards more sustainability translate into packaging in the Asia Pacific Region?

Now more than ever, consumers are acutely aware of the interconnected nature of our global food system – its impact on our planet, its support for our communities, and ability to provide nourishment for billions of people around the world. As one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, we have a responsibility to be a steward and accelerate change for a more resilient, sustainable food system. At PepsiCo, our accelerated sustainability agenda is focused on six areas where we feel we can have the most impact: Climate, Agriculture, Water, Products, Packaging and People. You can learn more about our progress in these areas in PepsiCo’s 2020 Sustainability Report.

We believe that a design culture can provide strong support for PepsiCo’s sustainability efforts. Design is embedded from the start of the innovation process to help drive solutions for consumers across product, packaging and experience – that work includes prioritizing more sustainable solutions that help us drive change toward a more sustainable and resilient food system. For PepsiCo and for our designers, people are at the center of our decision-making process, and they have heightened expectations and awareness that brands use packaging that is more sustainable. That’s why we introduced our Sustainable from the Start program a few years ago. This program ensures we put sustainability at the heart of product design. Design and Sustainability are champions of this program and work closely together to ensure that environmental impact is an essential part of the decision-making across the product lifecycle.

SodaStream and SodaStream Professional are great examples of how design and sustainability are partnering to expand our portfolio to go “Beyond the Bottle” and find ways to deliver beverages free from single-use plastic. Consumers have come to know and love using SodaStream at home, and SodaStream Professional offers the ability for people to personalize their beverages in an environmentally friendly way at places like college campuses, offices, and travel hubs. The Design team was involved in SodaStream Professional from start to finish, helping create the platform’s intuitive user experience, as well as the physical look and feel. Through growth of our SodaStream business, an estimated 78 billion single-use plastic bottles will be avoided through 2025.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!
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