Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Head-to-head: Custom cereals - Part 2

This is the second part of a series of posts about my recent experiences ordering from [me]&goji and MixMyGranola, the leading U.S. custom cereal manufacturers.

A couple of weeks ago I went online to place fairly identical orders from these two companies. Despite the different offerings, it was fairly easy to come up with a cereal combination that would allow for a fair comparison. In the end I decided to concoct a mixture that included their base granola plus dried blueberries, almonds and flax seeds.

Both companies have dynamic web sites that allow for the instant creation of the cereal of your choice. They also have premixed versions for those that either can't make up their mind or don't want to go through the hassle. (But half the fun is coming up with your recipe!) As far as the online simplicity and user experience, both websites are well designed and easy to use, although [me]&goji's is more appealing because you drag and drop your ingredients into an on-screen bowl. Cool! Each also allows you to see the nutrition composition of your formula before you purchase.

As far as choices are concerned, [me]&goji offers 9 cereal bases, including gluten-free options. From there you can choose from 19 grains and spices, and 14 dried fruits. MixMyGranola's options offer more possible combinations. Although there are only 4 bases (3 granolas and 1 muesli), you can pick from 17 nuts and seeds, 20 dried fruits, 24 extras (including such unusual ingredients like gummybears, pretzels and candy corn), and 17 enhancers (powders including spirulina, green tea and bee pollen).

In many ways these companies seem to be quite similar, even down to the use of a cylinder in which your cereal is packaged. But, each also adds its own twists, apart from the ingredients offered. [me]&goji allows users to donate $1 upon checkout to a worthy cause, this month to renewable energy projects and breast cancer survivors. MixMyGranola offers some special price incentives. If you join their monthly "granola club" you can save 15-35%. And if you first sign-up for their email newsletter you get a 10% discount off your first order, although I tried that and my special code didn't work - so no discount!

As far as cost is concerned, my [me]&goji order totaled $15.39 with shipping. The MixMyGranola bill came to $13.25 with shipping. But, it is important to note that the [me]&goji cylinder is somewhat larger. If you calculate the total cost per unit of weight, MixMyGranola is about 50% more expensive, although they are much more aggressive in offering discounts through their granola club, newsletter offers, and even a coupon included with the shipment. Shipping charges also can differ. I ended up paying an identical $4.99 for each order, but that's because [me]&goji's rate was still a "summer special". MixMyGranola rewards those who buy in builk, offering free shipping for orders over $40.00.

Ordering was a pleasant experience, but one disadvantage to conventional cereal shopping was evident. I couldn't take my cereal home with me and instead had to wait until it was delivered. More on that in the next post.

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