Lotte is a South Korean multinational firm, and its major headquarters in the South East Asian region lie in Thailand, primarily focusing on biscuit snacks Koala’s March and confectionery such as Xylitol chewing gum.
“Koala’s March has seen great success in this region with products such as chocolate and strawberry biscuits, initially focusing on mothers and children - but in major markets for us such as Thailand and Japan, we have realised that these are becoming increasingly ageing societies, so focusing solely on this segment may not be sustainable in the long run,” Lotte Thailand Marketing Research and Analysis and New Product Development Manager Mao Ogino told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“So we have been developing products to appeal to more and more consumer groups, starting with the Black and White biscuit series that targets teenagers when they ‘graduate’ from the chocolate and strawberry that tends to appeal to younger kids, and then recently we have the Rich Matcha variant made with Japanese Uji Matcha which is meant to target adults and moms for self-consumption.
“This is really thinking long-term and considering the future where there may be more and more adult or even elderly consumers and focusing solely on developing snacks for kids will reduce our competitiveness, so we need to figure out the solutions early on .”
When innovating for older consumers, inevitably the main area of concern will be health and wellness which is an area that many snacking companies have been striving towards.
“These consumers will look for products that contain healthier propositions and healthier ingredients, and we have made some progress here, for example with our Vanilla Milk variant that is made for export markets and contains higher calcium levels,” he added.
“There are not yet biscuits solely targeted for elder consumers, but in other areas we have the Xylitol chewing gum which contains more than 50% of xylitol, a sweetener proven to have benefits for dental health.”
Scientific research has shown that xylitol helps prevent plaque formation and is associated with slowing down cavity-related bacterial growth.
Wider market penetration
Besides attempts to innovate from an age demographic angle, Lotte is also looking at widening its appeal to markets with large consumer bases that have specific religious requirements when it comes to food and beverage regulations.
“Another major area for us is to improve market share in markets with large Muslim populations such as Indonesia, or those with large vegetarian populations such as India,” Ogino said.
“This will involve product development at the formulation level that ensures the production is halal or vegetarian in order to comply with the religious requirements of local consumers, as we definitely want to make sure our products can appeal to every religion and legislation.
“So for example, we have formulations now to make vegetarian products and halal certified products, to make sure the whole production chain is export-friendly and also enables us to have strong presence in markets like Indonesia and India.”