OPINION13 January 2014

Kids’ cereal brands – use qual more effectively or risk becoming toast!

Youth

With sales of children’s breakfast cereals under threat from both new product formats and from those who claim they contribute to childhood obesity, brands should use research to better understand the key messages on which marketing and communications should focus if they are to resonate more successfully with potential consumers.

With sales of children’s breakfast cereals under threat from both new product formats and from those who claim they contribute to childhood obesity, brands should use research to better understand the key messages on which marketing and communications should focus if they are to resonate more successfully with potential consumers.

Many brands undertake research but still fail to extract the insights from the data needed to make the exercise commercially valuable. And this at a time when figures suggest that last year in the UK, the second-largest cereal market in the world, volumes were up just 1%.* The boxed cereal category for children has traditionally been particularly successful. According to Euromonitor they account for £1.64bn in sales in the UK alone in 2011.

If you look, for example, at children’s breakfast cereal brands, ask yourself what a product in this category needs to say about itself in order to maximise its chances of success?

Cereal manufacturers know that mums worry about nutrition, and that kids want taste – you don’t need research to tell you that. It is much more complicated. Often, for example, mums just want something kids will eat first and foremost, and, some just pay lip service to nutrition as long as they get something the children will eat quickly and without complaining so they can get them off to school as fast and easily as possible.

Some mothers do place nutrition higher up their scale of priorities but understand so little about it that just putting ‘no added sugar’ or similar on a pack may be enough to convince them.  Emotionally, many do need health reassurances.

It is thought, however, that concerns over the nutritional content of children’s cereals will continue to impact on demand. With some health campaigners claiming they are high in sugar and salt and low in nutrients, brands must be able to demonstrate that their product does not fit this profile. In addition, there is growth in other areas of the breakfast category – cereal bars, breakfast biscuits and instant porridge  – that give consumers options to move away from conventional boxed cereals.

Mums are juggling a myriad of different and often conflicting needs. Research needs to do more than just identify these needs, it must also help indicate how to balance them all.  By weaving qualitative techniques into research, it is possible to deliver greater respondent engagement and involvement to produce a fresh, deeper consumer perspective.

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