SHANGHAI — A day after Hershey announced plans to launch a new brand in China — marking the first time the company launches a new brand outside the U.S in its 120-year history — the company announced plans to open its Asia Innovation Center in Shanghai.
The center is part of Hershey’s strategy to drive global growth and innovation. Located at the Jinqiao Golden Bridge Research Park in the Pudong District of Shanghai, the research and development hub is, according to Hershey, a fundamental step toward enabling the company’s ability to quickly develop, test and launch new products customized to the tastes of consumers in China and across Asia.
China is currently Hershey’s fastest growth market, moving from number seven to number three in chocolate share in just five years with overall chocolate share more than quadrupling by 2012.
“Our new Innovation Center in Shanghai supports our aggressive growth plans in Asia and reflects our global approach to business,” said Michael Wege, SVP, chief growth and marketing officer, the Hershey Company. “It will enable us to translate our insights and knowledge of consumer tastes and preferences into relevant products. With industry-leading innovation capabilities based in China, we will develop products that expand our portfolio across the region and around the world.”
The two-floor, 22,000-sq.-ft. facility will house R&D laboratories, a pilot plant for the chocolate and sweets and refreshment categories and a development center for emerging product offerings. It will also feature a sensory area, creativity center, packaging development section and research laboratory.
The center will initially employ 12 scientists and product developers and includes office space for up to 32 engineers and innovation staff. The team will be led by Qingbin Yuan, Hershey’s director of Asia research and development. Over time, Hershey will supplement technical resources that will enable the facility to become a broader global innovation hub with a focus on building powerful brands in China, across Asia and potentially worldwide. To achieve this goal, particular emphasis will be placed on consumer research and testing — a process Hershey’s calls consumer-centric brand building. Hershey will leverage customer feedback to gain a holistic understanding of how the company’s products play into lifestyles and changing consumer needs.
“The China team is very excited about the new Innovation Center in Shanghai,” said Jane Xu, VP and GM of Greater China for the Hershey Company. “Our aggressive growth target in the next five years will be achieved by building our five global brands across China, along with the innovation capabilities developed at the center.”