Over the past few weeks, several tips out of Canada (including a segment on NBC's Today Show) have revealed that General Mills is experimenting with some innovations to stodgy old oatmeal. For a limited time in the Great White North consumers can buy Lucky Charms Instant Oatmeal and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Instant Oatmeal. Pairing a traditional hot cereal with an irreverent, popular cold cereal brand is powerful. I am amazed no one has thought of this before.
For years I have been observing the slow, but growing trend toward oatmeal, and porridges in general. Hot cereal is a comfort food, and with the increased convenience factors (i.e. instant and single-serve packaging) offers a nutritious alternative to the typical cold cereals that dominate the marketplace. Already there are dozens of oatmeal brands readily available in the supermarket, and many more niche varieties as well.
General Mills told NBC that their Canadian experiment is an eight-week trial, and that "there are not any plans at this time to introduce the product in the United States." Porridges are somewhat more popular in Canada (any big surprise?), so this is a good test market for them. I would love to hear what General Mills learns from this venture, but I hope they decide to expand their offerings to more brands and to the U.S. as well. At minimum it could get children hyped over oatmeal!
I have long contended that with the breakfast cereal market in decline, innovation is critical. This could be an opportunity for the big players to extend their already well-known brands to hot cereal. Kellogg has already done this with Special K, but they all could benefit from following General Mills' lead with Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and try other pairings. Some naturals that come to mind for me would be Apple Jacks, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Froot Loops. What about Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry in the fall?
What fun, new hot cereals would you like to see?