Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Cereal Year in Review

As we come to the end of the year it is a good time to look back on the major developments in the world of cereal. Like always there are new cereals that hit the market, interesting marketing tactics, and the occasional controversy, but the big story for 2013 is the realization that, in North America at least, the cereal industry is facing some major challenges. In fact, someday we may look back on this year as a critical point in the history of breakfast cereal.

Certainly purchasing and eating trends have been changing for quite some time, but this is the year that the big players were forced to make some big adjustments. This summer there were a number of commentaries on analysis suggesting that cereal has gone soggy. Cereal consumption is not as ubiquitous as it once was as consumers have so many other options available to them. And, despite a proliferation of new brands and varieties, very little innovation has taken hold. The result is that at least two of the big three cereal companies are feeling the pressure. Kellogg recently announced a sales decline and closure of some plants, and Post posted a loss.

The 2013 bright spot was definitely General Mills, indicative of the disproportionate amount of coverage they have received on this blog. They have actually had sales growth, and this is due to taking on the shifting cereal market aggressively. As I've already pointed out Big G leads the industry in use of social media, and gained attention with such things as provocative advertising and their popular monster cereal re-launch. They appear to be the company to beat right now.

In light of the challenges facing the industry 2014 should be an exciting one to watch. The Breakfast Bowl will be there to bring you the latest developments! (And, be sure to follow us on Facebook for even more cereal information and tidbits!)

Final word...

CEREAL PICK OF THE YEAR: There weren't any earth shattering cereal introductions this year, but the new one that stood out to me was Post's Grape Nuts Fit.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Super Bowl for Cheerios

General Mills continues their aggressive assault against the slide in cereal popularity. This year we've seen the focused use of social media, a willingness to be controversial, the return of the entire monster cereal family, and cereal box premiums, among other things. Their latest tactic is the announcement that the 2014 Super Bowl will include a Cheerios commercial, the first for the brand and something unusual for cereals overall. While details on the commercial are still secret, indications are that it will focus on "the power of family love and the important role that Cheerios and breakfast can play in building family connections".

We'll be watching.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Return of the Free Prizes?

Those of us who grew up in the 50's, 60's or 70's know that a fun part of breakfast cereal was the free prize inside many boxes. This was a marketing ploy that really worked, drawing in kids and sometimes adults to get a small toy, sports card, etc.

Cereal premiums still show up from time to time, but rarely. General Mills, who already is on a roll this year with some great new marketing initiatives, is offering free Stars Wars Pens in specially marked boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese’s Puffs, Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs, Trix and Lucky Charms. The eight different pens are each based around a character in the Star Wars movies, and will likely be in demand by the many movie fans and collectors out there, especially as we all anticipate the final trilogy, currently in production.

Hopefully this will see more free prizes in cereal boxes. I'm not sure why they ever went out of fashion. Perhaps it was an extra cost companies didn't want to absorb, or maybe they felt consumers were too sophisticated. But, at a time when cereal companies have to innovate to stand out this could be a winning strategy for the industry and for children building memories with little plastic toys.