Thursday, June 16, 2016

The possibilities of custom packaging

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but one of the most impressive innovators in the cereal industry is mymuesli of Germany, which has been featured here on several occasions. Their major contribution is the successful development of a model for custom cereals, which some American companies have attempted, but so far have failed.

Part of the appeal of mymuesli is the comprehensive experience they provide consumers. It's not just custom recipes they provide, but so much more; and that now includes an experiment with custom packaging. This level of personalization engages customers, and makes buying and eating cereal lots of fun.

Heidelberg, the large German company that makes commercial printers, has partnered with the cereal company to setup a custom printer in one of mymuesli's stores so that customers can walk out with a canister featuring their selected text and images.

Read Heidelberg's press release on this innovation, and consider the possibilities of well-established U.S. cereal companies could catch a vision for a whole new level of innovation!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Toast goes Tiny

Last week General Mills proudly announced what they call, "our first new cereal brand in 15 years." Tiny Toast cereal is "shaped like small pieces of toast sprinkled with blueberries and strawberries," and is the result of extensive research and development.

On the positive side, it is good to see some new cereals, with bold, fun packaging that should grab consumer attention in the grocer's aisle. The whole miniature toast experience will liven up the breakfast table, at least on the short-term.

I take exception, however, to General Mills calling this a NEW cereal brand. Perhaps it is a distinctly named brand, but the small toast concept is hardly new for GM. What about Cinnamon Toast Crunch, French Toast Crunch, Chocolate Toast Crunch, and others? Obviously, the earlier "toast" varieties have been very successful, so why not expand on it? But, in light of that, to call this a new brand is a stretch.

Nevertheless, we'll watch (and taste) to see if Tiny Toast is a way for people to keep cereal at the forefront of their breakfast menu.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

MixMyOwn: Another custom cereal maker shuts down

Custom cereal MixMyOwn has announced that today, June 5th, is their final day of operation. In an email sent to customers a few weeks ago they said,
"We want to thank you for your past business and tell you how much we have enjoyed doing this business. We started this with a lot of energy, motivation and hope, but it was not enough. There are many reasons why it did not turn out as we needed and now we want to focus on our other business, which is doing better."
Sadly, this is not the first custom cereal company to fold. We are aware of least three other U.S. ventures that have come and gone over the past decade: [me]&goji, MixMyGranola, and Custom Choice. MixMyOwn was the newest of these, starting only three years ago. Despite the valiant efforts of their European founders, the U.S. market did not respond as they had hoped.

I have long contented that custom cereals is a promising innovation that could help shake-up the cereal industry. Of course, the proof of this is in the brilliance of the concept's originator, mymuesli of Germany. The U.S. imitators tried hard to copy their success, but obviously could not do it. This is not Germany, but the U.S. where the cereal market is well established and entrenched. But, in an environment where the industry desperately needs a revival, the underlying approach should work. In my view, for it work here massive investment will be necessary to give it the kick-start it needs to gain traction. None of the previous attempts had that. Depending on a simple e-commerce model was not adequate for them.

It is sad to see an innovator disappear, but hopefully the lessons learned from their experience will help others who have a vision for this type of company. I still believe that a well-funded, well-crafted, U.S. take on mymuesli could be one of the recipes for success that cereal industry needs.