Low-key cereal innovation

How are brands tapping into comfort & nostalgia, while pointing to easy wins within the snacking landscape?

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Adin Heller

05 May, 2021 | 2 minute read

This is the second article that I’m writing about cereal, so, as you might guess, I really like cereal. I am also a self-confessed cereal snacker. Even as I child, I had little use for diluting my cereal with milk, preferring to eat it with my fingers from a bowl, or even straight from the box.

Cereal makers have finally caught up with what I, and many other snackers, have known for years: cereal is a perfect, highly versatile snack. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and can be enjoyed at any time of day or night.

Over the past several months, Post, General Mills, and Kellogg’s have all come out with lines of cereals specifically designed for snacking.

Post has Pebbles Crisps and Honeycomb Big Bites.

Post pebbles

Kellogg’s has taken a similar approach with Jumbo Snax, oversized versions of favorites like Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, and Smorz (Kellogg’s is in the business of tasty cereals, not in the business of helping children learn how to spell!).

And General Mills has taken a different route, combining some of their most popular cereals into “remixes”: Cinnamon Vanilla (including CTC classic, CTC Churros, and Vanilla Chex), Golden Grahams S'mores (GGs, Cocoa Puffs, and mini marshmallows), and Chocolate Caramel (Chocolate Toast Crunch, caramel popcorn, and Vanilla Chex).

Ctc remix

The pandemic is a perfect time to launch snacks like these. Consumers are looking for comfort and nostalgia, and that is exactly what all of these products deliver – with the added bonus of convenience.

One of the things I frequently hear from consumers is that they want snacks to come in resealable packages: for portability, for freshness, for portion control. All three companies deliver their new snack cereals in resealable bags that come in sizes smaller than a typical box of cereal.

This packaging choice is not only appealing and convenient for consumers, but also semiotically cues that these products are designed to be used and eaten differently from traditional cereal products.

Putting these cereals in pouches associated with snacking gives consumers the confidence and permission to have fun and eat these products with their fingers any time they want (not just at breakfast) – and reseal-ability means you don’t have to share, or worry about germs!

General Mills in particular has done a wonderful job maximizing the ROI of existing products, transforming them into something completely new simply by combining them in creative ways and using packaging cues to help clearly reframe them for consumers, without straying too far from their core territory.

Pep snacks

PepsiCo has used a similar strategy with products like Munchies snack mix and Smart Food with Crunch Berries (honestly genius brand synergy from two key snacking brands in PepsiCo’s stable).

Yet the snacking landscape is ripe for more low-key innovation like this that both leans into the comfort and nostalgia of well-loved products and brands, and also gives them fresh twists by combining products to create novel flavor and/or texture combinations, suggest new occasions for usage, and/or make products & brands relevant again to groups that may have moved on from them.

What creative possibilities exist within your stable of brands and products? Get in touch to find out how we can help you test and realize the potential of new (or remixed) products, concepts, and packaging.

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