Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kashi too "Mainstream"

Last week a big announcement in the cereal industry was Kellogg announcing another disappointing round of cereal sales, and a workforce reduction of 2000 employees. As we've discussed here before cereal has gone soggy in American culture, and the big companies are struggling to maintain, let alone grow, revenues.

Lost around that story was a much more interesting tidbit that came from the mouth of Kellogg CEO John Bryant. As he relayed the state of the company's financial performance he commented on the problems with Kashi, Kellogg's natural food brand. The reality is that health foods are now mainstream, and Kashi no longer has a unique place in the market. When Kellogg purchased Kashi 13 years ago they saw this as an opportunity to reach a population segment that was looking for something much more wholesome than regular cereals. If it has worked, that success is now waning, and Kellogg is in dire need of a new strategy.

Kellogg is not alone in the attempt to broaden their market reach by buying out healthy food brands. General Mills owns Cascadian Farms. Kraft bought Back to Nature cereals. Barbara's is owned by the U.K's Weetabix. And, Kellogg's has yet another natural brand in its arsenal: Bear Naked. These revelations could be a shock to many of you who thought you were thumbing your nose at the large corporations.

In other words, the big cereals companies have jumped on the bandwagon over the last decade or so to capture a portion of the breakfast bowl, knowing that consumers were increasingly looking past the nutrition mediocrity of popular cereals. But, nutrition conscious consumers are not stupid. They know the facts, and are easily put off by companies acting without authenticity. In fact, they also react negatively to inconsistency such as when it was discovered that Kashi used genetically modified ingredients. The result of all this, as CEO Bryant inferred, is that brands like Kashi are no longer desirable brands, they're as mainstream as Froot Loops.

The future for cereal companies is nothing less than innovation, reaching out to a broader base of consumers in fresh new ways. It appears, however, that going natural is no longer one of those ways.

(Source: Huffington Post)

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