Thursday, March 27, 2014


Cereal sales are in decline. We know that, and so do the cereal companies.

In going over some of last month's chatter from big cereal CEO's it is interesting to read what they think the solution is. They all recognize that cereal is core to their business, and that some fine-tuned strategies are required to get back to the prominence they once had.

I encourage you to read some of the reports on the CEO's comments (see links below), but here are the major highlights:

Kellogg recognizes the need to reinforce the benefits and value of cereal at breakfast.

General Mills is planning on more product innovation and targeting marketing to four growth sectors: older consumers, millenials, middle-class consumers in emerging markets, and multicultural families (particularly Hispanics).

Easy to say. Hard to do. But are these strategies that will really turn things around? Only time will tell, but while these general statements are on the right track implementation will be critical, and I wonder whether the big companies have what it takes to really respond to what consumers are looking for.

Sources: brandchannel, and

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ingredient trends

Innovation in the cereal industry takes many different directions. One of the ways that companies try to gain attention is by incorporating ingredients that are either novel or in high demand. In recent years we have seen various ingredient trends emerge, everything from chocolate to chia. Industry publication, has recently identified a couple of current hot ingredients to watch.

One is green tea, something already being used in South Africa. Green tea has been shown to assist in weight loss, and with the obsession of many people to lose the bulge this could be appealing to consumers looking for an edge.

Another ingredient is carob. The dark brown flour is being researched for its antioxidant properties, and could offer some unique qualities in a breakfast cereal.

We'll keep watching. Of course, we will want to taste as well. In order for cereals based on unconventional ingredients to take off they have to be flavorful and something people will love to eat!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Perfecting Cereal Milk

It's not a new concept. For several years now a number of attempts have been made to convert the cereal experience into a beverage. So far nothing has really stuck. Breakfast drinks themselves have been around for years and are still readily available. The deliberate introduction of a cereal-flavored drink goes back nine years, and several have tried since, even has recently as this past year. But, as a category this has not become the sought after breakfast alternative.

The latest entrant to the race is an upstart simply called "Cereal Milk". Even though the product isn't even available yet, I am intrigued with their creativity. They are still working on the formulas and trying to arrange licensing agreements with major brands (no easy feat), but if they can get it right their vision could be the breakthrough that will make this fly. I especially like the glass bottles!

Check out their website, including the video. It will be worth watching their progress.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sink Bowl

Over the years it's been fun to report on new concepts for cereal bowls. Inventors try to overcome some of the challenges we face when eating cereal, mostly the issue of sogginess. The latest is the "Sink Bowl" a design concept by Sherwood Forlee.

The Sink Bowl is actually two bowls, one stacked on top of the other. The top bowl has a small plug in the bottom. When your cereal has been in milk for just the right amount of time you simply pull the plug to let the milk drain out to the lower bowl.

Perfect? The Sink Bowl does not appear to be available for sale so I haven't actually tried it, but for those are picky about soggy cereal this could be a solution. My concern is with the small little plug and the attached cord. There's got to be a better way to handle that, but then of course it wouldn't be a sink!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

When all else fails change the box

A regular topic on this blog over the years concerns the struggles of General Mills' Wheaties and the various attempts to revitalize this brand. So far nothing has really worked.

With Wheaties' sports emphasis it's no surprise that they just unveiled two new boxes featuring two Sochi gold medalists. Even though General Mills is not an official sponsor of the Olympics they are capitalizing on the athletes themselves, this time Mikaela Shiffrin and Sage Kotsenburg. This post-Olympics strategy has been going on for quite some time, 2012 and 2010 as recent examples.

The story here, however, is not more Wheaties boxes with athletes on them. It is that this is an opportunity for General Mills to highlight a major redesign of the core Wheaties box itself, the first such move in many years. In actuality they released a generic version of the new design back in the fall, but now with these star athletes the fresh look is fully expressed and promoted.

The boxes have a new energy to them, with a revamped wordmark all brighter and gradient oranges, all obviously targeted to a younger audience. The boxes definitely will stand out more on the grocery store shelf.

But, will this new look result in more sales and a rejuvenated brand? Only time will really tell.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal featured an article the same day on Wheaties' struggle, including a quote from yours truly. Unfortunately, they got the quote partly wrong, as I was referring to the now discontinued Wheaties Fuel, not the base Wheaties. So, Wheaties lovers relax. I know there are some of you out there!