Monday, September 12, 2011

Cereal claims

This is hardly news, but nutritional labeling on many foods, and cereal in particular, is often hype more than substance. Now, there is evidence that seems to support the contention that cereal box claims are misleading.

A University of Yale study published in Public Health Nutrition found that most parents misinterpreted the claims made on cereals targeted to children. Except for cereals purported to be organic, parents were more likely to purchase the products because of their understanding of the claims. The study recommended increased regulation of nutrition claims.

I know that we can’t control how people interpret information, even if it is accurate. But, in a highly competitive cereal market it is incumbent on manufacturers to remain on the high road when creating their packaging and marketing. Their reputation depends on it.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Wheaties revisted

It was two years ago today that General Mills launched Wheaties FUEL, a new variety of sports oriented cereal targeted at men and those seeking athletic performance.

I have been watching the progression of this brand since even before its beginning, and I am still not convinced it has been the success General Mills had hoped for or that it could have been. While sales figures for specific products are not released, it is my observation that it hasn't been selling that well. I base my less than scientific analysis on several factors: it doesn't appear to get much grocery store shelf space and few people I talk to are even aware that FUEL exists or is a separate Wheaties cereal. Also, I am not hearing much excitement about its taste characteristics.

General Mills worked hard to launch FUEL using social media, one of the first cereals to be primarily promoted by this means. But, I wonder if they've done enough to build brand awareness through at least some mass marketing campaigns.

Interestingly, just yesterday two new limited edition boxes (Wheaties and Wheaties FUEL) were introduced at the beginning of the NFL season featuring Green Bay Packer stars Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. But, these are limited edition boxes for sale only in Wisconsin. I'm sure they'll sell truckloads there, but by limiting it there they have missed out on significant sales elsewhere among football fanatics.

I hope I am wrong about Wheaties FUEL, but without a finer tuned and broader marketing approach, it may never fully capture the market it was intended to reach.