SINGAPORE: Kraft, the food group, is putting marketing, pricing and innovation at the centre of a "virtuous cycle" to drive growth in Asia.

According to Today Online, Pradeep Pant, president of Kraft's Asia Pacific operations, plans to exploit a clearly-defined model in countries across the region.

He said: "We drive these markets with what we call the virtuous cycle of growth … by using strategic pricing, streamlining your costs, doing end to end product initiatives, and then investing aggressively in innovation, advertising and promotion."

Overall, the core tactic for the firm is to boost awareness and trial in its primary sectors of interest, snacks and confectionery, which remain at a nascent stage in many nations.

"In these categories, both in terms of penetration and per capita consumption, there is a huge amount of space, in all our key markets," he said. "I think driving this ... will certainly deliver a very robust top line and bottom line growth in the forseeable future."

Research and development will be another priority for Kraft, as shown by the fact just 7% of its local sales came from new products in 2007, a figure now standing at 15%.

"In markets like China, it is actually tracking at nearly 30% of sales. So, innovation is at the heart of the growth driving engine," said Pant.

While "big bang" discoveries can provide major successes, Pant suggested such changes - as recently prompted by smartphones - generally occur once every 20 years.

"It's about setting up and driving a cycle of activation, renovation and innovation into every aspect of the business. This must be part of the company's DNA," he said.

"Business leaders need to allow their people to experiment on a daily basis. It is not a one-time event. Be willing to accept a lot failures.

As an example of this approach, Kraft's Cadbury brand installed coolers in numerous Indian retail stores that did not have air conditioning, and which could house items like butter and ice, as well as chocolate.

It has also rolled out smaller pack sizes, making products more affordable to less affluent shoppers, and used marketing campaigns to align chocolate with various local celebrations.

Warc subscribers can read details from another recent presentation by Pant here.

Data sourced from Today Online/Asia One; additional content by Warc staff