First off, I want to declare my life-long affection for and commitment to breakfast cereals.
Yes, my tastes have matured a bit from when I started so many mornings out with a big Melmac bowl full of milk-drenched Sugar Pops, Frosted Flakes, or Sugar Crisps. Today, my cereals of choice are of the non-sugared variety: Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, and something Kashi or other.
I still take my cereal milk drenched, and with fruit, preferably blueberries, second choice peaches, third runner up – but often pressed in for service when the first and second choices aren’t available to fill out their term – are bananas.
I regularly have cereal for breakfast, and have been known to have it for lunch or dinner as well. (Dinner cereal, however, is more likely to be oatmeal tarted up with apples, raisins and walnuts.)
But I don’t see cereal as a snack, mostly because, if it doesn’t have milk and fruit on it, what you’ve got is dry and boring (unless you’re a toddler, most of whom seem to find Cheerios a delightful in-car snack). As a snack, it just can’t compete with most healthy – apple a day – unhealthy – couple of Oreos, bag of M&Ms – or somewhat in between – single handful of cashews, followed by a second handful of cashews – sort of snack.
But Kellogg is not targeting me when they’re aiming to get folks to start snacking with Tony the Tiger or Snack, Crackle and Pop. (Quick: which was which?) They’re after the big prize, millennials: “the nation’s largest demographic: people born from early 1980s to about 2000.”
The nation’s largest demographic? Move over Baby Boomers – or, as is more likely, pass on, Baby Boomers - and welcome, welcome, welcome. In another ten years we can stop blaming the Boomers for everything bad that’s going on and shift it onto this cohort. Yes!
While total U.S. cereal sales have fallen 8.8 percent since 2012, the share eaten in the afternoon and evening has risen steadily in recent years, hitting about 35 percent in 2015, according to the Battle Creek, Michigan-based company. That’s partly because millennials have embraced Froot Loops and Smorz as indulgent snacks, says Craig Bahner, president of Kellogg’s U.S. Morning Foods division. To ride the trend, Kellogg is repackaging products including Frosted Flakes and Special K in grab-and-go containers and emphasizing the nostalgic pull of cereal as a late-night treat.
“It’s an alternative to a salty or savory snack in the evening when you’re looking for a little TV time,” said Bahner, describing one of the strategies Kellogg hopes will boost revenue. (Source: Bloomberg)
And, by the way, those millennials are apparently quite enamored of the sweet stuff, those sweetie-pies:
Sweet cereals are popular with millennials, despite their perceived emphasis on healthy eating. Kellogg brought Smorz back recently after a long hiatus because customers kept requesting it, and sales of General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch jumped 8.7 percent in 2015, one of the biggest gains among top cereal brands, according to Euromonitor.
One of the reasons that Kellogg is gung ho on expanding their snack business is that breakfast serial business is off.
The collapse has come partly because the longtime breakfast staple has found itself on the wrong side of recent preferences: It’s too sugary, too processed and inconvenient.
Too sugary, maybe. (Yes, well, Frosted Flakes, but even Shredded Wheat?) Too processed, I’ll buy. (No arguing that.) But too inconvenient? Isn’t convenience what processing gets you? If I want Shredded Wheat, I can get it quite conveniently. In a box. From a shelf. In a store. Without having to thresh and mill my own grains, and then figure out how to bale them into little Brillo-like chunks suitable for drenching in milk. But one generation’s convenience is, apparently, another generation’s grievance:
A recent report from Mintel Group Ltd., a market-research company, found that 56 percent of millennials think cereal should be more portable, while 39 percent said cleaning the dishes after eating is a hassle.
Okay. Young whipper-consumers want something that’s healthy and non-processed. But it also has to be sugar laden, like Smorz. (I’ve never heard of Smorz, but is there really a cereal composed of graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate? Makes Lucky Charms seem like a cup of quinoa.) And it can’t be a hassle.
Oh you poor, dear things.
If rinsing out a bowl and a spoon is too much of a hassle, I really do fear what you’re going to make of the hassle we call life…
Meanwhile, snack away!