Tang sales skyrocket to $1 billion annually

Flavors of Tang in the Philippines.

Kai Ryssdal: Kraft Foods now has an even dozen brands that're worth $1 billion. Joining the likes of Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House and Oreo is an orange powdered drink most of us probably haven't even thought of since we were kids.

So who's buying Tang now? Sally Herships has the story.


Sally Herships: Remember Tang? Of course you do.

Tang commercial: The astronauts do some things you do. In space, they drank Tang. They mixed it like this, in a Zero G punch.

When the drink came out in the late '50s, it was orange-flavored. But now it comes in exotic flavors like tamarind and lemon pepper. Maybe that's why Tang sales have almost doubled over the past four years.

Gary Stibel: New products, new flavors, new package forms, new sizes.

Gary Stibel is CEO of New England Consulting Group. You can now buy Tang in Egypt and Indonesia and Turkey. But Stibel says despite press reports, we don't have a true global economy.

Stibel: The economy in the Philippines is very different than the economy in Brazil.

Which means companies often market the same product differently in different countries. Rob Salomon teaches international strategy at NYU.

Rob Salomon: Tang in the United States is a fairly mass market kind of brand, but in other countries it's positioned almost as a dietary supplement.

Yes Tang is for kids, but it's a nutritious drink that provides vitamins and minerals. Kraft pumps up the health angle for moms shopping in other countries. Last year, Kraft bought Cadbury, which gave Kraft more access to markets around the globe.

Salomon: They can just take their existing products, like Tang, and push them onto Cadbury's customers.

In case you're wondering, the bestselling Tang flavor is still orange.

I'm Sally Herships for Marketplace.

About the author

Sally Herships is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

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