TOKYO -- Ezaki Glico, the Japanese company that makes Pocky and other snacks, is looking to Southeast Asia.
First is Indonesia, where in autumn Glico began an ad campaign for Pocky that stars JKT48, a group of female pop idols derived from the Japanese idol group AKB48 and named after Jakarta.
President Katsuhisa Ezaki says the campaign has successfully raised the profile of the company's core product.
Beyond the pop idol push, Glico also aims to set up Glico Indonesia in late March to handle sales there. The company would take on the duties and the about 100 employees of the current local distributor. The aim is to give Glico more direct control over operations.
Most Glico products are sold in Indonesia through major supermarkets and convenience stores using major delivery channels. However, according to a Glico official, this type of distribution only accounts for around 20% of snack sales in Indonesia. The other 80% are sold through private shops, many of which are in rural areas.
New factories, too
Glico has been selling Pocky in Thailand since the 1970s, where it sells the chocolate-covered pretzel sticks in pouches in rural areas that retail for five baht ($0.15). This is a third of the price of the boxed version, which is the common way Pocky is sold elsewhere.
The company aims to double sales in Indonesia to 1 billion yen ($9.68 million) by 2015 by introducing a similar marketing method.
Currently, about 500 million boxes of Pocky are sold each year in total across roughly 30 countries -- 300 million of these are sold outside Japan. It aims to triple its global sales of the product, to $1 billion, by 2020.
Glico already has Pocky production facilities in Thailand, and distribute to the rest of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, where the snack first went on sale in 2012.
In 2013, the company raised 14.2 billion yen by selling off of some of its shares to build a factory in Thailand, which will open by 2016, for additional production capacity. Glico also aims to open an ice cream plant in Indonesia. Other Japanese rivals, including Lotte and Meiji, already have their operations there.