Cereal marketing

Picture of Tom Dougherty
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

30 November 2020

Cereal marketing takes a step back

Woe is the brand that buys into a trend, thinking it guarantees long-term success. Look at breakfast cereals, a category struggling. Or at least until now. With COVID-19 forcing many of us to work from home, cereal marketing is shifting to take advantage.

For example, a study from The Hartman Group shows eating breakfast at home has, as you would expect, risen. The fool’s gold marketers are clinging to is that those eating sugary breakfasts has risen more than 100%.

So what do those in cereal marketing do? They double-down on the sugar. For example, Kellogg is introducing Mashups, a combination of Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops. Tim Horton’s joins the grocery aisle with Timbits, offered in chocolate-glazed and birthday cake flavors.

You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m all for reacting to the latest research. Stealing Share is a researched-based brand agency. However, you must recognize what’s a long-lasting trend and what’s a short-term one.

cereal marketingThis is a short-term one. As Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation of Innova, says, “Consumers are looking for convenience, clean labels and health when purchasing cereals.”

Cereal marketing needs a re-focus

Those trends will remain, and eventually rebound. And they are trends cereal marketing are ignoring. They still haven’t truly faced the facts. Consumers are more interested in health than ever, which isn’t going away. And they are looking for on-the-go options, even if they are working from home.

The two killers of breakfast cereal, as pointed out in our expansive cereal study, are milk (in the negative) and fast food options (greater convenience.) Consumers generally avoid milk.

Which is why the American Dairy Association’s bringing back the “Got Milk” campaign.

“Cereal marketing, I’m afraid, is taking a step back. They’re teaching consumers that cereal equals sugar again.”

And the breakfast daypart remains the fastest growing sector for fast food.

Cereal marketing, I’m afraid, is taking a step back. They’re teaching consumers that cereal equals sugar again. When we all start going back to the office, the long-term trends will re-emerge.

And cereals will lament reacting in such a knee-jerk fashion.



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