Thursday, September 09, 2010

Wheaties FUEL: One year later

It was one year ago today that General Mills officially launched Wheaties FUEL, a major brand extension to its sports oriented cereal, but this time even more directly targeted at men and athletic performance. The actual cereal hit shelves in January.

I was an early proponent of General Mills doing something to breathe new life into Wheaties, a brand with a clear identity and so much more potential. I believe that FUEL was the right move.

But, I'm not convinced that FUEL has been as successful as General Mills had hoped. I have no hard sales data to back this up, but based on my own observations it doesn't appear that the cereal has rocketed to great significance in the mind of most consumers, especially men. Interestingly, (and, again, pure observation) it appears that traditional Wheaties may have benefited from this launch.

I give General Mills credit for creative marketing. They assembled a star cast of athletes, and leveraged social networking like no other cereal previously marketed. But, I think there is one flaw in their execution: The cereal itself.

I don't like to comment much on cereal taste because it is largely subjective, but in my opinion and in the comments I hear from others I talk to, FUEL is not a knock-out cereal for the tastebuds. Despite all the claims for providing energy, etc. the cereal must be an enjoyable eating experience. It's not a bad tasting cereal, it just doesn't stand out as anything special. Ultimately, even macho men want to eat something that they truly enjoy first thing in the morning.

The Wheaties FUEL story is not over, and I hope that General Mills works at this more. It's a great concept.

What do you think about Wheaties FUEL?

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Anonymous said...

Well, duh, I didn't realize that Fuel was actually a different cereal than Wheaties. I'd always thought that it was just packaged in a different box and it was an advertising thing, you know: calling it "fuel". Maybe other shoppers are as confused as I am, and that's why they never bought the stuff. Rolls eyes.

Lloyd said...

Obviously their marketing hasn't worked on you!