Target market

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Target market — the Asian-American market for Snickers

The chocolate bar ‘Snickers’ is an American candy icon. Snickers’ combination of salty and sweet flavors is what makes the candy so desirable. “Peanuts are also a key part of a marketing pitch that touts an energy boostIt’s almost like a de facto energy bar, like a PowerBarIt’s a candy bar, but the peanut element is important” (Williams 2012). It is, as its advertising campaign proclaims, ‘satisfying’ as well as sugary. Snickers is seeking to enhance its marketing to Asian-Americans and positioning the product in distribution channels accessed by this demographic is essential.

Candy is a ‘fun’ purchase, rather than one which is deliberately sought out and researched like a durable good. Convenience stores, supermarkets, and other locations where people make impulse buys are the most common venues for purchasing candy, meaning that other types of distribution (such as direct mail or using salespersons directly targeting the consumer) are less valuable than retail shelf space. Snickers must craft an eye-catching presence in stores trafficked by the target market — the need to have a presence in stores with heavy foot traffic is particularly important. Exclusive relationships with retailers when selling candy bars is very uncommon, although it is not unusual to have specific agreements with certain stores which will specifically promote the bar.

When marketing to Asian-Americans, focusing on stores popular with the demographic or regions of the country where the target demographic is heavily concentrated is a critical component of the distribution strategy. Offering key stores special promotional incentives if they showcased the product (such as discounts on merchandise) would be one way to gain traction. Marketing to luxury retailers like Costco might be one unique channel more exclusive to the more affluent, highly-educated target market although buying candy in ‘bulk’ is a relatively rare event. Other possible retail channels might be partnering with ice cream or fast food stores popular amongst the demographic like the yogurt chain Pink Berry, to create exclusive Snickers-trademark ‘sundae’ flavors.

Food companies often seek to emphasize flavor profiles as well as buying habits characteristic of the demographic when positioning the product. Kit-Kat has been extremely effective in doing so with its release of limited edition flavors. When marketing in Japan itself, Nestle had a great deal of success introducing new Kit-Kat flavors like “wasabi and green tea” (How did Kit-Kat become the king of candy in Japan, 2012, Eatocracy). In Asia, the salty-sweet combination is less popular than it is than the United States; hence the need for a different flavor profile than what is commonly sold in American stores. Even if Snickers cannot offer many special ‘new’ flavors, emphasizing other components of the bar, such value it offers (it is a meal as well as treat and therefore money-saving) might be important in reaching the target demographic. It may be that Asian-Americans do not necessarily naturally gravitate to the peanut milk chocolate combination as well, based upon cultural food traditions.

Focusing on projecting an image of beauty and style is particularly relevant to selling in the Asian-American market. For example, “Japanese consumers are the most demanding in the world not only in terms of the quality of product but also quality of packaging and visual presentation” (How did Kit-Kat become the king of candy in Japan, 2012, Eatocracy). This is one reason that Kit-Kat is so popular in Japan, because of its visual appeal as well as its customization. Snickers could be repackaged as a ‘special edition’ in a flavor or tied in with a promotional campaign specifically targeting Asian-Americans to enhance this ‘eye candy’ component. However, when selecting a joint partnership in which to engage in horizontal marketing, the company must be careful not to stereotype the diverse Asian-American market, which is made up of many diverse ethnicities: “The mere thought of inadvertently offending your ethnic target might dissuade companies from . Just this year, a major ice cream chain was compelled to apologize after it hastily concocted a new flavor inspired by the rise of a certain Taiwanese American pro-basketball sensation. Problem was, the ice cream was made with fortune cookies” which were actually born in America (Britt 2012).

Snickers could ‘piggy back’ upon the popularity of a company amongst the target demographic through a product tie-in but it must be the right tie-in. “Although Asian-Americans hail from many nations with distinct cultures, the community has developed shared values as a whole. It is still difficult, however, to package Asian culture so that it makes cohesive sense for marketers” (, 2013, Nielson). Some common cultural values such as family or the importance of education — Asian-Americans are more educated than the general demographic as a whole — can be stressed in the positioning of the brand.


Asian-American consumer base. (2013). Nielson. Retrieved:

Britt, Bruce. (2012). Marketing to Asian-Americans. Deliver Magazine.


Garrison, Matt. (2012). Why Snickers is poised to rule the candy world. Marketplace. Retrieved:

How did Kit-Kat become the king of candy in Japan? (2012). Eatocracy. Retrieved: