Monday, November 30, 2009

Cereal poll update

It's time for our next Breakfast Bowl poll. The last question was: "What is your initial impression of new Wheaties FUEL?"

Here are the results:

Great! Unique and innovative - 37%
OK. Another cereal choioce - 21%
More hype than substance - 21%
Who cares? - 21%

Obviously, mixed results.

Now for the next question. Recently I did a series on custom cereal. The question for you is: "What you think of custom cereals?"


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

More [me] & goji

Last month I did a four-part series comparing my experience with custom cereal manufacturers MixMyGranola and [me]&goji.

In response to my posts [me]&goji co-founder Adam Sirois emailed me his reflections and some additional information. He gave me permission to share his email. Here are some excerpts that provide greater insight into what they are doing:

This is Adam, one of the co-founders of [me] & goji. I wanted to thank you for running the 4-part series on our company versus mixmygranola- it was great to read a nonpartisan comparison. I appreciate the honesty of your review (you actually purchased your own mix, rare!), and I'd like to address a few points you raised in your article to continue the discussion, shed some light on our thoughts behind the industry and highlight some things that set us apart.

Using a combination of MyMuesli and GM's MyCereal soft launch to press in 2001 as a foundation for our business model, we decided to focus on cereal as muesli does not have a big market here and you do not find many small cereal companies in the US the way you do granola; we saw an opportunity there.  We do not try to shy away from the influence they had, but like any new company, we attempted to improve upon the foundations they laid. Apart from being the first custom cereal & granola company in US, we have innovated in several areas including:

-first (& only) to have a LIVE nutrition counter that updates in real time as you add each ingredient
-first (& only) to allow customers to upload any picture onto their Cereal Capsule (who hasn't dreamed of having their face on a cereal box!)
-first to use drag & drop functionality to make the mixing experience interactive
-first to target people with special dietary needs, such as those who are intolerant to gluten or elite athletes with a focused diet
-our website is designed to be educational and engaging where visitors can learn about new exotic foods and their health benefits
-we are an eco-conscious brand and one of the only consumer product companies I know to offer carbon offsets at the purchase point (Green Tags)

As you know, cereal is a $10b industry and it is a product that people are passionate about.  Before us, cereal was considered a fast-moving consumer good with low-perceived value.  What we are trying to do is reposition cereal--similar to the way Starbucks repositioned coffee--as a premium specialty good that can be catered to each individual. We do not sacrifice quality for quantity or price and every ingredient we choose to offer is the best of its kind we have discovered, even if it means sacrificing the organic tag (our blueberries are grown wild in Maine and hand-picked, but not certified organic).

We are not trying to create a gimmick or novelty item, rather a lifestyle brand and a superior product, and I believe we have (Food & Wine named us Best Natural Cereal in August).  While our granola is great, our cereal really sets us apart.

You were one of the first to feature us from the very beginning and we often used your blog as a resource during the early stages of development, so we thank you for that. We continue to follow your blog and recommend it to our cereal fanatic customers. We would love to keep an open line of communication and hear any suggestions / advice you'd like to give.

sincerealy yours,

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cereal Party

Celebrity news (i.e. gossip) holds no interest for me, but one story caught a little attention. A few days ago Taylor Swift won big at the Country Music Awards, but instead of a typical night out celebrating she had a "cereal party" at home with her parents.

Does that mean cereal is the new cool?

(Source: omg)

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Packaging innovations

The Olin Design Group recently passed on to me information on some new bags they designed for food products such as cereal. The bags come in two patented designs, Easy Pour and Zip Pour, both of which provide convenience, reduce packaging and food waste, and still remain attractive for marketing purposes.

Certainly, bag innovations are not new, and some companies have already done a great job with innovative bag designs. The key here is, as I have mentioned before, is for cereal companies to "think outside the box". Some companies have already done so. For example, Target's Archer Farms and several custom cereal manufacturers.

Apart from the practical and environmental benefits, it can also be a great way for cereals to stand out on grocers' shelves and in consumers' minds.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

More dubious labels

Following soon after the controversy over the Smart Choice Program, a new controversy has emerged over Kellogg's recent immunity claims printed boldly on several cereal boxes. Essentially, they are playing on the current flu fear by giving the impression that cereal has some special immune strengthening qualities. In truth, these qualities are simply the vitamins in the cereal - a significant overstatement.

Kelly Brownell, of Yale University's Center for Food and Policy says "this one belongs in the hall of fame. By their logic, you can spray vitamins on a pile of leaves, and it will boost immunity".

Based on the widespread negative media attention this is receiving, it is obvious that Kellogg (and other companies) have to stop trying so hard to get a sales edge. Exaggerated claims do nothing to help their brand credibility.

(source USA Today)

UPDATE: November 4th - Kellogg announced today that they will be discontinuing this packaging. (source BrandWeek)

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