MUMBAI: By the end of this year, PepsiCo India aims to have doubled the number of variants and flavours of its leading Kurkure snack brand as it taps into regional taste preferences to drive growth.

With a total of some 30 options becoming available, the brand will in one year have added as many flavours and variants as it has over the previous 15 years, Quartz India noted.

"Regionalisation is a big trend in the Indian market," said Partho Chakrabarti, vice president/snacks at PepsiCo India. "So we are dialling into local tastes and regions as the way forward for Kurkure."

Kurkure was originally devised as a crossover between traditional Indian namkeen and Western potato chips and while it has been successful its current flavours tend to be based on those preferred in north India.

Even the names of the new variants – e.g. South Tangy Twist, Punjabi Chatka – indicate how PepsiCo is targeting certain parts of the country.

"Local brands are kings in their own towns and categories," Chakrabarti acknowledged, but with the traditional snacking market being the fastest growing part of the overall snack market it is not an area PepsiCo can afford to ignore.

In fact, it has invested significantly in developing an approach that can enable it to take on those smaller companies with a particular understanding of local tastes.

An ESOMAR paper outlines how PepsiCo has created "palate maps" which detail the country's flavours and flavour combinations and those dishes and snacks that characterise each region.

And a "sensorial elicitation" tool helps to gain an understanding of how consumers decode flavours and the sensations accompanying them, with the findings fed into the creation of prototype products for testing.

The authors claim that "The innovation process is so much richer as it's starting from clear consumer articulated spaces and the probability of success increases manifold due to [the] closer match between consumer expectations and R&D product delivery".

Data sourced from Quartz India; additional content by Warc staff