Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Breakfast of the Mediocre

What's with Wheaties?

For many years no other cereal has been as closely linked to sports as the orange-boxed Wheaties. "The Breakfast of Champions" was marketed primarily through its close association with well-known athletes, including those from baseball, football, basketball, the Olympics, and golf. The boxes themselves have been a popular collectors' item by both sports and cereal enthusiasts.

But, Wheaties appears to be taking a new direction. No longer can you find your sports heroes facing you at the breakfast table each morning. Instead you are given a drab message indicating that you can "Jumpstart Your Metabolism". The emphasis is on "Everyday Champions", you and me benefiting from the whole wheat cereal. The active lifestyle emphasis is still there, but gone are the excitement and endorsements. With this type of mediocrity Wheaties will probably find itself lost on a very competitive grocer's shelf.

Certainly the costs associated with licensing sports stars, teams and leagues is a real consideration for General Mills. But, I wonder if they're doing enough to give Wheaties a new, and stronger, identity.

Overall, I think they are on the right track: Position Wheaties as the athlete's cereal. You can see this already happening with their "Everyday Champions" emphasis. And, on their website they have research that reveals Wheaties fuels muscle recovery following exercise.

But, General Mills needs to do more to drive this message home. Perhaps a good strategy would be to market Wheaties specifically to men and their desire for athletic performance. There are already fitness cereals for women (Kellogg's Special K and General Mills' own Curves). Why not a testosterone-fueled marketing campaign that is geared at males and their fierce competitve nature?

It would be sad to see a strong brand like Wheaties weaken, and out of the cereal playoffs!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Target innovation

Target is known for its innovation. Another example is in its new cereal packaging that is to be introduced soon, as part of their Archer Farms house brand.

Archer Farms cereals themselves are not new, and already have a small, but loyal following. But, Target is hoping to raise their profile with unique packaging. Instead of the commonplace cardboard boxes or plastic bags, the organic cereals will be packaged in a sturdy, plastic cardboard container with a convenient flip-top lid.

Another attractive, premium option for consumers.

UPDATED April 21/08

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Design matters

One of my favorite marketing blogs is Brand New, which focuses on corporate and brand identities. They recently commented on Kellogg's re-design of the logo and package design of Smart Start cereals. Overall they are not impressed with the changes.

Whether you like the changes or not, the real issue here is that there is much more to cereal box design than meets the eye. Your first glance at a box when walking down the cereal aisle provides a critical moment in your purchasing considerations. Ideally the packaging will project an image that resonates with your needs and desires, and is consistent with its contents. All successful consumer goods do this.

This is one of the reasons that cereal boxes themselves are fascinating, and a critical part of the overall breakfast cereal culture.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Some people have way too much time and money on their hands!

According to an AP story, Sisters Emily and Melissa McIntire of Chesapeake, Virginia found a Corn Flake that resembled the shape of Illinois. As any enterprising American would do they placed the item for sale on ebay, and surprise, surprise soon bids climbed to exceed $200,000!

ebay wasn't impressed and pulled the auction, claiming that it violated their policy regarding the sale of food. (They were also likely suspicious of the credibility of the bids). So the sisters have relisted the flake working within ebay's regulations, and the bid is still over $1000.

Others, seeing money growing on trees, have begun listing their own flakes of Illinois and other states, and even knock off products related to this whole phenomenon.

I think it's time for me to go to the kitchen and dig through my cereal boxes. Who knows what I will find?
UPDATE (03/22/08): The auction is over. A trivia museum bought it for $1350.00. I can't wait to visit that musuem!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cereal lip balm

I know the title is strange, but here's another cute example of brand extension. General Mills has licensed several of its brands to Boston America Corp who makes a a wide range of novelty products. The result is a series of lip balms in crazy flavors like Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Franken Berry, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

But is the lip balm any good?

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

More soy

A study was recently released in the Journal of Food Science examining consumers' acceptance of soy in breakfast cereals.

There has been considerable buzz about soy in recent years because of its high nutritional quality, and more and more food manufacturers are looking for ways to incorporate it in functional foods. Some breakfast cereals have already experimented with soy as an additive. (For years already, I personally have added a soy powder supplement to my morning cereal. Many others use soy milk).

But soy has some drawbacks. Some people have trouble with its taste and texture. As a result food scientists have been working to find ways to make soy more attractive by adding sweeteners and spices (such as cinnamon). While the more soy in the formula the poorer the response by the study participants, it is interesting to see the work that is going into this type of research.

Maybe someday soy will be a primary ingredient in your breakfast cereal.

How about soy sauce flavored Rice Krispies?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cap'n Crunch Shake at Carls Jr.

Here's a unique marketing partnership: Fast food restaurant Carl's Jr. is now selling a Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shake or Malt featuring Quaker's Cap'n Crunch. These are good tie-ins that cereal companies should continue to pursue to strengthen and broaden their brand awareness.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Cereal poll update

It's time for our next Breakfast Bowl poll. The last question was: "Is cereal a help or hindrance for weight loss?"

Here are the results:

Help - 62%
Hindrance - 38%

Now for the next question. At one time the best part of opening a cereal box was the premium inside - toys, books, even candy. But, they are now hard to find.

So, "Should cereals have more premiums (i.e. prizes) inside?"


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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chia cereal

Remember Chia pets? The tacky little clay figurines that "grow" are based on the Chia grain, a highly nutritious seed that is high in such things as omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.

Ruth's Hemp Foods of Toronto has introduced Chia Goodness, a blend of chia seeds, shelled hemp seeds, buckwheat, dehydrated apples, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, salt and sugar.

Innovative, but is it too niche to gain traction?

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cerealicious - an international story

While both breakfast cereal and cereal restaurants have their origins in the U.S., they have global appeal. For example, Cerealicious is a new chain of cereal restaurants that have opened in the Philippines. They are marketing these as dessert baras and they Filipinize the cereals by local adding nuts, fruits, cookies and candies. But apparently they are experimenting with other cereal items on the menu, including the addition of fish and pork! Maybe there are lessons that can be learned from Cerealicious that will help the fledgling industry here.

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