Those of us old enough to remember the first NASA space missions back in the 60s will always hold a special place in our hearts for the powdered drink mix, Tang. It was what those first brave astronauts drank while orbiting the Earth in those tiny space capsules, and many of us Baby Boomers wanted to be just like John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and the rest of those guys who had the “Right Stuff.”
Today you don’t hear so much about Tang, except in reference to those halcyon days of the Gemini and Apollo space missions—or as a spaceflight-connected joke from a late night TV monologue.
So it came as a bit of surprise when Kraft Foods announced last week that Tang has become the company’s 12th $billion dollar brand, with global sales nearly doubling in the last five years.
As reported by E.J. Schultz, writing for the trade journal Advertising Age, Tang’s sales growth has come primarily as a result of aggressive marketing in international markets, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the Philippines. Kraft has had international success with Tang flavors such as mango in the Philippines, soursop in Brazil, horchata in Mexico and pineapple in the Middle East—although orange remains the top seller.
Kraft has spent very few dollars marketing Tang in the U.S. in recent years. In the powdered drink category, the company’s domestic focus has been with Crystal Light and Kool-Aid. But indications are there may be a countdown underway to an advertising lift-off for Tang here in the near future. “Based on the tremendous success Tang is enjoying in other markets, particularly in Latin America, we’re looking at what lessons we might be able to apply here in the U.S.,” spokeswoman Lisa Gibbons told Ad Age in an email.
With NASA space missions winding down, however, it looks like Tang will have to use more earthly ways to promote the drink stateside.
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