The Minneapolis-based consumer packaged goods company takes a West-meets-East approach to its Chinese market, says Gary Chu, president of greater China for General Mills (Fortune 500). Take the Bugle, a corn-based chip. In China, mostly teens and younger kids eat salty snacks, he notes. The company offers 20 different flavors, like meat and seaweed, and introduces one or two new varieties annually to keep them interested in the brand. The most popular is American Ketchup, which, despite its clear western influence, is not even available in the U.S. ,
Häagen-Dazs is one of the company's biggest brands in Asia. "Our road map and our business formula [for Häagen-Dazs] is very different than the States and Europe," Chu says. (The brand is licensed to Nestle in the U.S. and Canada.) In China, the company runs full-service Häagen-Dazs restaurants with a luxury vibe in high-end malls and hotels. In the past, most of the flavors had been more oriented toward the U.S. or Europe, and many had a chocolate base. But in the last few years lychee, red bean, green tea, mango, and passion fruit have emerged. They've also had success producing mooncakes, which are exchanged widely every year as part of an annual festival. Häagen-Dazs, by putting an ice cream twist on the mooncake, has become one of the top manufacturers of the product in China and sells 2 million boxes every year, says Chu.
There's nothing like the two columns called China Briefs in the South China Morning Post.