Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Cereality experience

For several years I have kept up with and commented on Cereality, the early leader in the cereal restaurant business. They have had theirs ups and downs, and possibly have a brighter future after their takeover by a similar chain, Coldstone Creamery.

But up to this point I had never actually experienced a visit to Cereality. There are few locations, and none anywhere near where I live. But, during a trip this week I found myself in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport where a new Cereality recently opened. Of course, I took advantage of the opportunity during a 2-hour morning layover.

I must qualify my review by pointing out that this is an airport location, and airport versions of restaurants are typically dumbed-down versions of the real thing. Based on what I've learned about Cereality, this location is not quite the normal format of their cereal bars. Just the fact that it shared space with a Blimpies sub stand is indication of that.

What struck me most upon first approach is how much it lacked the direct, emotional attachment to cereal. In other words, I couldn't see what would draw someone to the location if they were not already familiar with the brand or concept. Signage was minimal and less than enticing. There were several LCD monitors promoting several custom combinations, but I was expecting more. For example, there were absolutely no tie-ins to the the brand images of the major cereals they stocked. Why hasn't Cereality worked out licensing agreements with Kellogg, General Mills, Post and Quaker to display some of its logos, packaging, etc? (Maybe the big cereal companies themselves should be starting their own concept restaurants building on these strong images?)

While one can simply order cereal and milk in their innovative, disposable bowl/box, the real point of visiting Cereality is enjoying a combination of either hot or cold cereals and other add-ins such as fruit, nuts, syrups, candy, etc. I decided to choose one of their suggested combinations - the Country Inn Crunch, a mix of low-fat granola, frosted flakes, and cinnamon apples. After the server struggled to figure out what I wanted and then put it together following a chart on the wall, I added the milk from a small carton and dug in. Far from exhilirating, but a decent late breakfast.

I certainly see the potential in cereal restaurants, but, at least based on this encounter at Cereality, see considerable room for improvements and a stronger brand image and experience. I will be interested to check out other locations and some of their fledgling competitors in the future to see how the concept develops.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


Just a few months ago the world was abuzz with the incredible Olympic performance of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps. Even Kellogg was impressed, quickly acquiring him in an endorsement deal.

But, things have changed. Phelps was recently photographed smoking marijuana, a move which has diminished his public appeal. Today, Kellogg stated that they will not be renewing his contract since his behavior is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg".

Source: USA Today

UPDATE: Feb 6/09: The blogosphere has been buzzing with many posts about this endorsement deal gone bad. Surprisingly, not everyone is supportive of Kellogg's decision.

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The move to more nutritious cereals is not new. Nor are "functional food" cereals which incorporate specific nutrients for particular health effects. But, pharmaceutical company Abbott has added a new twist with its Glucerna line of cereals - they are sold in pharmacies, not in the normal cereal aisle of your grocery store.

Glucerna products are designed for people with diabetes, and their cereals are to help "manage your blood sugar levels with a tasty breakfast". They are made with a unique carbohydrate blend and contain chromium picolinate which aids the body's insulin production. And they come in three flavors: Crunch Flakes 'n Almonds, Crunchy Flakes 'n Strawberries, and Crunchy Flakes 'n Raisins.

That's innovation. It's for a niche market, but innovation nonetheless.