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    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch to try a different audience

Will adults come back to eating cereal?

Now this is interesting. As some of you might know, we posted an in-depth study of the breakfast cereal market and came away with several conclusions. One of which was that kids, the traditional target audience for these cereals, have better and more convenient choices so the market for those cereals is shrinking.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the fifth best-selling cereal in the US, is rolling out marketing to adults, not children, in the next few months. It’s an attempt for a kind of retro approach, complete with more cinnamon in the cereal, ads on adult programming (not the kids’ channels as before) and a social media campaign that includes bloggers for moms.

Is this cereal for you?
Is this cereal for you?

Now, I said it was interesting, but I’m not sure how effective it will become. General Mills, which owns Cinnamon Toast Crunch, says half of its current audience is made up of adults and it’s hoping those adults remember how much they enjoyed the cereal years ago.

Said Associate Marketing Manager Elizabeth Crocker to Marketing Daily: “Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not only a favorite among families, but also adults who grew in the ‘80s. We are seeing an uptick in interest from both millennial consumers who enjoy the taste and fun, as well as older customers who fondly remember it from their childhood.”

In the study, we said that cereals should promote the brand of cereal instead of touting its individual brands because the category had a serious hurdle to overcome: The belief that cold cereals are simply not healthy. It’s not a strategy we would usually recommend, but the cereal industry has been watching sales fall for a decade now and some plugging of the dike needs to take place.

Adding cinnamon, or rolling out a fruitier flavor for Trix or increasing the chocolate flavor in Cocoa Puffs (all of which General Mills has done) doesn’t seem like the right strategy to stop that flow. It sounds like the cereals will become even less healthy.

Targeting adults with nostalgia will be interesting, but execution will be key. (McCann is doing the upcoming ads.) If the ads look and sound like any other breakfast cereal campaign, it’ll fail miserably. Part of the problem cereals have had is that they all look and sound the same. They just look like a goop of cartoony, sugar-infested food that appeals to few. (Even kids have moved onto the on-the-go foods like Pop Tarts.)

My prediction is that this strategy will provide a brief uptick in sales, but will not work for the long term because it doesn’t address the real issues and may even be counterproductive to alleviating those issues.

But if done in an unapologetic manner (think, in tone, like Hardee’s in the fast food category), it has a chance. We’ll be watching.

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