Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about cereals

Wikipedia is fascinating place to gather information or just simply to waste a lot of time.

Cereal lovers will be excited to learn that numerous contributors have been working at amassing valuable information on hundreds of cereal brands, both past and present. From a List of breakfast cereals you can link to articles on brands such as the rare Sir Grapefellow from the 70's or a mainstay like Corn Flakes.

Not all links have articles yet (anyone prepared to contribute?) and there are still some noteworthy brands missing (for example Pink Panther) and there are few international brands (except for the odd Canadian or U.K. one).

A good reference for cereal fanatics!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Weekly Poll Update

The results from our latest Breakfast Bowl poll are in. Last week's question was: "Which cereal company/brand do I prefer?"

Here are the results:

Malt-O-Meal - 32%
General Mills - 20%
Kellogg - 16%
Nestle & Post (tie) - 8%
Kashi, Quaker, Generic/Store Brands, Other (tie) - 4%
Nature's Path -0%
Weetabix - 0%

My take on the above results: I know that there is a trend toward lower priced cereals, but 32% for Malt-O-Meal? Are their fans manipulating the poll?

Here's the question for this week:

"How many days a week do I eat cereal?"


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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Freebies: Reinventing the cereal box?

One of the most fascinating aspects of cereal is its marketing through the use of creative packaging and promotions. Looking back to the 50's and 60's one sees this trend developing, with many fun cereals, boxes, and free premiums inside. Certainly, the marketing of cereal is as prominent as ever, but the simple fun of the past has been largely overtaken by more slick efforts.

That may be about to change with Freebies, a proposed cereal by Bob Staake, a nationally-known illustrator who has experience in this field, having once done design work for Ralston Purina cereals. Staake has created a six zany characters and a fun cereal box design, with the proposal of also including free toys in the box. According to his website:

"FREEBIES is a cereal that recognizes that today's kids and parents are smart -- and will respond to a healty product that entertains and teaches something of value in a small, yet goofy and entertaining, way. ... "What I wanted to do with FREEBIES", said Staake, "was create a positive character-driven storyline that could break through the clutter of marketing-oriented product in the supermarket cereal aisle. Kids don't want to be sold DVDs and ocean cruises that are routinely advertised on the back of today's cereal boxes.
They want to sit there and become engaged in a fun and playful world while they eat a breakfast cereal that their parents can feel good about. To me, FREEBIES is about returning some innocence into the first meal of the day for a child-- and maybe giving them a giggle before they go off to school."

Staake's hope is that his design and accompanying website will catch the attention of major cereal manufacturers who are looking for a way to be more responsive to what consumers are actually looking for.

If he is successful at selling his idea it might see the start of a new era in cereal boxes.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Disney changes food strategy

Disney is known for marketing itself in countless ways, including licensing of food products. In recent years Disney has had a close relationship with Kellogg, resulting in the introduction of a number of innovative cereals ranging from Princess cereal to The Incredibles cereal.

But, it appears that this relationship has not worked out. According to Walt Disney Co. has struck up an agreement with General Mills for future licensed cereal (and other food) products . But, one of the major differences is that its new food products will not positioned with premium prices, as with Kellogg. Prices will be significantly lower.

But will Disney's new strategy cheapen their image?

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekly Poll Update

The results from our latest Breakfast Bowl poll are in. Last week's question was: "What is my primary consideration when buying a breakfast cereal?"

Here are the results:

Taste - 52%
My Favorite Cereal - 24%
Nutrition - 19%
Packaging - 5%
Price - 0%
Influence of my children -0%
Desire for variety - 0%
Special offers or premiums - 0%

My take on the above results: Not really unexpected.

Here's the question for this week:

There are several major cereal manufacturers, so apart from individual cereals, "Which cereal company/brand do I prefer?"


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

The good and the bad of cereal bars

I don't usually focus too much attention here on cereal bars, as I'm not convinced they are really "cereal" (at least not to a purist). Nevertheless they are gaining in popularity as cereal companies look for ways to increase market share and profitability in light of increasing competition and lifestyle changes.

Two recent articles, both from Europe, are worth reading on the topic:

Food discusses the need for cereal manufacturers to respond to lifestyle changes, with cereal bars an excellent example of this trend.

which? from the U.K. reports an investigation of the best selling cereal bars, finding that they were all high in sugar, and most were also high in saturated fat.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fortune article on Kellogg

In recent weeks I have made several references to the possible trend in decreased cereal consumption, especially as it relates to Kellogg. Fortune magazine has picked up on this with a brief article, highlighting how Kellogg and other cereal manufacturers are finding it necessary to expand into other foods to see growth in sales and profits. The article quotes an analyst who estimates that only 47% of Kellogg's revenues now come from cereal.

The trend watch continues.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Beware the shrinking box

A Consumer Reports article reveals that cereal manufacturers will be shrinking boxes on some cereals as a tactic to deal with increasing costs. Kellogg is leading the way with Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Frosted Mini-Wheats, and it is expected that other brands and manufacturers may follow suit.

Sneaky? Yes. Necessary? Probably, if they want to maintain profits, etc. Good for business? Over the long term, probably not. I know the cereal industry is facing many challenges, including increased competition and possible lower consumption trends, but they must find more ways to bring value to consumers. Only in this way will they survive over the long haul.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kellogg's Number One Brand

Kellogg has a number of powerful brands. But, which is number one? Corn Flakes? Rice Krispies? Frosted Flakes?
It's Special K. What was once a timid cereal has now emerged as Kellogg's strongest brand, primarily because of its emphasis on dieting (as I've previously posted). Health conscious consumers have latched on to this concept, and Kellogg has taken advantage of it by introducing a number of new cereal varieties, such as Special K Red Berries. But, now they are going to extend the brand even further by launching protein bars and even "protein waters" and Special K Personal Trainer watches. (See article in Advertising Age).

Special K has been a runaway success because Kellogg has been very clear as to its brand identity. Other cereals could benefit from similar marketing strategies (and the recent success with All-Bran may be another good example). One only has to wonder, however, if extending the brand beyond cereal will dilute its strength and make it a meaningless commodity.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Weekly Poll Update

I've been away and I'm behind on cereal news and our weekly poll. Things should get back to normal now. Thanks for your patience...

The results from our latest weekly Breakfast Bowl poll are in. Last week's question was: "Compared to the past I eat breakfast cereal more often, less often, about the same?"

Here are the results:

More Often - 35%
Less Often - 35%
About the Same - 29%

What does this suggest? Not much change overall. Cereal is still a staple food.

Here's the question for this week:

There are many factors that influence buying. So ... "What is my primary consideration when buying a breakfast cereal?"


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