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Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are searching for ports in the storm and for brands, that means established and trusted names are more important than ever. Mondelez‘s South East Asian marketing director tells The Drum what the company is offering consumers.

Over the last few months of working from home and locked-down cityscapes, many consumers have turned to the culinary arts – trying out new recipes, baking new triumphs (or disasters) and generally cooking up a storm. The trend hasn't gone unnoticed at Mondelez, one of the biggest makers of snacks, confectionary and beverages in the world. 

Nikhil Rao, the regional marketing director for South East Asia at Mondelez International, tells The Drum how the company launched has campaigns such as ‘Oreo Raya Baking‘ and ‘Oreo Play at Home‘ in order to reach consumers returning to kitchen cupboards in search of diversion.

“Shopping behaviours among our consumers have started to change and in many markets, supply to traditional trade has been impacted due to various measures such as lockdowns and closed borders. As a result, shoppers have moved to larger format stores and also to e-commerce platforms to carry out their grocery shopping,” Rao says.

As the pandemic drags on, Rao claims consumers are yearning for normality by looking for rituals, activities and brands that offer them a sense of trust and safety. They‘ve been snacking more and leaning towards comfort food, while also reaching out for brands they know and love.

This extends into consumers being increasingly conscious of the food they eat, how it is presented, and how it impacts the environment around them.

Mondelez believes in ‘mindful snacking’, says Rao. The firm claims consumers choose their snacks based not just on taste and enjoyment, but on trust in nutritional value. By placing nutritional information at the front of packaging along with guidance on portion control, Rao says the company is allowing the consumer to make an informed decision.

Many of its recent product launches have been aimed at nutrition-conscious shoppers. For example, the Chipsmore Oats line, launched in 2019, it contains wholegrains, 10% less fat and 5% less sugar compared to the original Chipsmore. It recently unveiled Tiger Crackers in the Philippines, a cracker brand that comes in flavors reflecting local cuisine sch as ensaymada and leche flan.

“People are also turning to snacks as a form of daily satisfaction and a common ground for shared experiences, connections, and identity. As a brand that younger people such as the Gen Z and millennials love, Oreo has been expressing a playful and fun side on its social media channels – which has led to many variations of Oreo cookies, such as the ‘Oreo Red Velvet‘ and our recent activation with embossed Oreo cookies – ‘#SayItWithOreo‘, he explains.

 
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“Consumers continue to be eager to assimilate global tastes and trends and Mondelez aims to lead the trend on innovation in product and activation. Innovations like Tiger Crackers in the Philippines, KinhDo Pizza Bun in Vietnam, Oreo Baking for Hari Raya in Malaysia show how we get the sweet spot of leveraging our global strengths to address local needs and tastes.”

With no end in sight to the pandemic, Mondelez is adopting a ‘discover and observe’ approach when assessing the impact of coronavirus. It aims to remain in close touch with global and local authorities to adjust its operations as required.

In the short term, Rao says he expects emerging markets in Asia to bounce back. In the long term, he believes Asia and its emerging markets will continue to drive snacking consumption and remain the company‘s fastest growing markets, due to a growing, and increasingly affluent, population.

“To this end, we are regularly carrying out consumer research to find out how people snack, the motivations behind why they snack and tapping on new trends to create new products. Mondelez will prepare for this future by remaining agile – utilising our deep understanding of consumers’ needs and always thinking ahead,” he explains.