Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cereal leftovers

As February comes to a close it's time to clear out a collection of recent cereal related items that caught my attention but didn't make the cut for a full blog post:

Reuters reported that, despite continued decline in cereal sales, Kellogg is raising prices.

USA Today details how New York Yankee's CC Sabathia lost weight by cutting out Cap'n Crunch from his daily diet. Not good PR for Quaker!

The Cornucopia Institute comes down hard on natural cereal company Peace Cereal for suggesting their products are organic.

treehugger highlights 10 healthy, green cereals

Guyism lists "9 of the most secretly creepy breakfast cereal mascots"

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding the Cap'n

Last month I reported on an attempt by independent fans to bring Cap'n Crunch to social networks such as Twitter. Typically, many grassroots movements like this die after their initial burst of enthusiasm. But, Where's the Cap'n is growing with a concerted push by its creators, especially in recent days. Their goal of reaching 1000 followers on Twitter is being encouraged with the giving away of a FlipHD Cam once they reach the magic number, and every multiple thereafter.

This is getting serious. All from two guys, Michael Gutweiler and Corey Smale, who started this campaign because of their passion for Cap'n Crunch cereal and discovered that Quaker had no social networking presence for their hero. Gutweiler and Smale run "the Giant Steps", a Chicago-based marketing agency, and decided to start it themselves. They told me they are "having fun with it right now", but it certainly has the potential to bring greater exposure to their own business. But, they seem content to allow Quaker to respond by giving the Cap'n his own long overdue "official", online presence. But, so far the company has stated that they have no plans to do so, even though the Giant Steps has offered their help.

This is an interesting story as it shows the loyalty and passion that many consumers have for their favorite brands. Quaker is missing an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the love of Cap'n Crunch by a significant number of people. Will Quaker respond, or will they just let this party go on by itself? And, will other companies see the possibilities they might have to strengthen relationships through their brands? Some candidates could include Post with Fruity Pebbles; General Mills with Lucky, Trix, or the three monsters; and Kellogg with Tony.

This will be fun to watch!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Kellogg to introduce Gluten-free

Report out today that Kellogg this year will be introducing certified gluten-free varieties of some of its cereals. Rice Krispies and Corn Pops are early examples.

Gluten-free cereals are not new. Custom Choice Cereal offers them exclusively, and General Mills and some other companies have a few. But, for gluten-free alternatives of mainline brands to be offered is significant, especially for the many people who are needing and desiring this option.

(Source: Gluten Free Appetite)

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Big and Small, no Middle?

Financial services company Credit Suisse, after analysis of the cereal industry, projected this week that the two leading cereal companies, Kellogg and General Mills, are expected to grow, mainly at the expense of Quaker Oats and Post. The latter companies "are facing structural challenges" that make them vulnerable to the much stronger corporations.

This seems to be an ongoing trend toward bifurcation, not only in the cereal industry but across a wide range of sectors. In other words, the future for cereal appears to be in the large corporations targeted in the mass market, and smaller, start-ups that can respond quickly to emerging trend and niches. The ones that will struggle are the companies in-between who do not have the same clout as the mega-companies or the innovation of the smaller ones. While Post (Ralcorp), Quaker, and Malt-O-Meal are all still in the game, within a shifting economy will they be able to find their place, not only in brand positioning but in their own financial sustainability?

I believe the next few years will reveal the answer.

(source: Barron's)

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cereal for your Valentine

Monday is Valentine's Day, the occasion to express your love to the very special person in your life. Chocolates, flowers, and jewelry will be popular gifts, but what about cereal?

Cereal is hardly ready to be the premiere choice for demonstrating one's affection, but at least some companies are hoping that some will see it as unique and special. Both major U.S. custom-cereal companies have special Valentine's promotions, ranging from Gift Certificates to a Valentine's Day Mix.

What's really significant about this is that the newer, startup companies can get away with this whereas the established cereal companies can't. No one would dare risk their relationship by giving an off-the-shelf box of Kellogg's or General Mills cereal for Valentine's. That could spell disaster, or a long sleep in the doghouse. But, giving something out of the ordinary could actually earn you points! All this reinforces the idea that newer, innovative brands have a higher perceived value. That's the challenge that the big companies are going to have to deal with more and more. How can they move their cereals from mere commodities to high value brands?

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

More global

This week General Mills and Nestle opened up their new innovation research center as part of their Cereal Partners Worldwide joint venture. This is not really news, as it first was announced back in 2009, although the joint venture began even 20 years before that.

But, the real story here is that it comes at a time when both research and global trends in cereal are in the news, as I pointed out in the last few weeks with Kellogg. Again, big cereal companies recognize that status quo is not acceptable, and that more has to be done to innovate. Also, there are tremendous growth opportunities in global markets, many of which are not yet real big in breakfast cereal.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, this latest effort between General Mills and Nestle actually attempts to take on both. It will probably take more than a research center to make this all happen, but it certainly will have an impact.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011


For many of us, memories of our childhood include getting toys in our favorite cereal boxes!

Unfortunately, in recent years the use of premiums has become virtually non-existent. Certainly, many of the toys we desired were just plain junk. But, it made the whole cereal experience much more fun than the more serious tones today.

Well, word is out this week that Mattell has partnered with General Mills to give away custom-designed Hot Wheel racers in five cereals. To add even more excitement, each box will have a promotional code that can be used on the Hot Wheels Racing Circuit website to race against other players online.

This is not the first time that Hot Wheels have been given away with cereal. Hopefully, it will spark a new trend toward more premiums, and more breakfast fun!

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