General Mills took its faith in the struggling cereal category up a notch this week with a national cereal lovers initiative across the US in a bid to inject the fun back into consumption.
The move comes amid a steady decline in cereal consumption across the US over the past decade and a net profit drop of 16% for its first quarter (Q1) of fiscal 2014.
The cereal titan has partnered with celebrity chefs for its ‘Hello, Cereal Lovers’ campaign to create unusual dinner and drink recipes using some of its branded cereals. One chef has created Golden Grahams fried chicken with hot honey drizzle, and another has made Cocoa Puffs carbonara and a Trix-based alcoholic cocktail.
The aim of the week-long initiative, it said, is to raise enthusiasm for cereal and take it ‘out of the breakfast bowl’.
“Hello, Cereal Lovers was created by General Mills as a multifunctional, brand agnostic effort to raise awareness and enthusiasm for the cereal category,” said Shelly Dvorak, Hello Cereal Lovers communications manager.
“People love cereal… It’s part of American pop culture. At the heart of it, cereal is all about fun,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Dvorak said the initiative would also highlight the nutritional benefits.
“The initiative embodies a celebratory, light-hearted tone and feel, to match the way people are naturally talking about cereal,” she said.
Connecting with consumers
This is not the first time this year that General Mills has worked to create a buzz around cereal. In July this year it launched its ‘Lucky to Be’ campaign using its Lucky Charms cereal to honor Pride month and resonate better with millennials.
The cereal firm has pushed its Lucky Charms brand to an adult audience recently, saying that 40% of the brand's consumers are adults.
It has also invested in promoting its Cheerios brand this year and aired a television commercial featuring an interracial family as part of the push. This particular advert however received a flurry of racist backlash from some consumers who threatened to boycott the brand, but one marketing expert said it would be beneficial in the long-run due to the amount of publicity and air-time it created.
Committed to a struggling sector
General Mills has said it is committed to the $10bn US cereal category, despite a 1% steady decline in consumption each year over the past decade.
“I have unwavering faith that cereal is an adaptable category and we’ll meet the changing needs of consumers at breakfast,” James Murphy, senior vice president of Big G Cereals at General Mills told analysts in the company’s latest earnings call (Q1 fiscal 2014).
Murphy said that General Mills would unlock neglected brands and push deeper into the natural segment in a bid to boost sales and consumption in the US.
During General Mills’ fiscal 2014 investor day in July, its executive vice president (EVP) and chief operating officer (COO) Ian Friendly said that the US cereal category has good growth prospects given the thriving breakfast at home trend. He also said there are favorable demographics – with the rise of kids and over 55s.