To hear PepsiCo's top executives tell it, two of the company's biggest needs nowadays are innovative marketing to revitalize some of its brands, and keeping pace with big competitors in the CPG industry to expand its presence in emerging national markets.
That's why this expansion of the company's PepsiCo10 incubator program to India and Brazil is so timely. The move will give the company a much better chance of discovering and harnessing technology, media and communications entrepreneurs in those crucial markets in new initiatives that lead to effective digital- and social-marketing initiatives.
"These two countries are very exciting emerging markets for us," Josh Karpf, PepsiCo's fresh from SXSW digital director, told brandchannel. "Both for consumer trends and, as we get into it, a lot of interesting technology. It really lines up well for us. It's all about building brands and driving business" around the world.
Launched two years ago in the United States and expanded to Europe last year, PepsiCo10 is "a way to help us see around corners and identify interesting technologies and emerging digital entrepreneurs to understand and learn" from them, especially in location-based and mobile marketing as well as social networks.
In the United States under PepsiCo10, the company received about 500 submissions from interested entrepreneursand then narrowed it to 75 companies that it invited to deliver more-detailed briefs. Then 25 finalists made presentations to about 100 PepsiCo brand-marketing and communications executives. From there, the PepsiCo10 were selected and supported.
Among the U.S. PepsiCo10, for example, was Evil Genius Designs, which launched its pilot at SXSWi 2011 with its "Super Shopper" digital game that uses motion-capture technology and tasks gamers to prove their agility and become a virtual-shopping cart by maneuvering in a digitally enhanced aisle.
Brazil and India will be fertile territories as well, Karpf believes. Brazil already has 80 million internet users, on its way to 100 million next year, and by late 2012 India will have 105 million internet users.
"What's interesting is that 40 million internet users in India already are using the net to make purchase decisions, and almost 70 percent are using the web to learn about products."
The PepsiCo10 effort in each country will be heavily oriented around each national market, Karpf said, in part because the company long has had significant established businesses in Brazil and India.
"We have teams there that have a heart for" PepsiCo10, he said. "We're going to leverage ideas that work and replicate them in other markets. But these efforts will be authentic to each of these markets — really locally run."