A Tiny Toast with High Hopes


General Mills has launched its first completely new cereal brand in 15 years. It’s called Tiny Toast, and fits in the New Age of Food, with no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colours or flavours.

Targeted at 15-18 year olds, news media are reporting that a large percentage of the promotional efforts for the new brand will be in digital and social media.

As the company notes, its new product introductions usually aren’t altogether “new”:

“It is is General Mills’ first new cereal brand since 2001, when we introduced the since discontinued [sw note: just 2 years after launch] Harmony cereal. Basic 4, which debuted in 1991, is the last newly branded cereal that remains part of our cereal portfolio. During the last 25 years, General Mills has launched dozens of new cereals. However, those cereals arrived via extensions of existing brands or licensing agreements, such as Reese’s Puffs.”

One interesting issue for the new brand is that the category as a whole has been in steep decline. Can a new brand with a new approach reinvigorate the cereal aisle? Or have consumers moved on?

How we created a new cereal brand





10 thoughts on “A Tiny Toast with High Hopes

  1. Paul Viggiano

    I am not surprised to see General Mills launch a new cereal brand. Given the amount of years since the last launch and the declining category it seems logical a brand manager would suggest a new product.

    But I do not believe this will be successful. This new brand will only steal shelf space from their other established brands and cost large shelving fees. The main issue is a large majority of millennials are not eating breakfast or they want something to eat on the go. This behaviour will not change through simple online media. The better option would be to work with consumers to develop product innovation such as cereal bars to go or other options.

  2. Darren Kitto

    I think this was a good attempt for General Mills to bounce back however the market they have chosen is inevitably in decline. I think this strategy will be unsuccessful because like Paul said, millennials are on-the-go and the late-morning type of people that won’t usually have a traditional breakfast. As stated in the time magazine article, there is a growth in popularity of other breakfast foods and a general rise in breakfast’s prestige – people want something more than just cereal now, but with the same simplicity.

    I think consumers have moved on and the existing established cereal brands will continue to dominate till there is an innovator that revolutionizes cereal. Especially with the rise of this trend of prestigious breakfast and brands such as McDonald’s introducing All-Day-Breakfast, I believe General Mills is definitely beat and will not succeed at their attempts to attract teens through digital marketing. I think it would be better for the company to continue with brand extensions (like reese’s puffs) and take another shot at the markets they have expertise in.

  3. Drew Padovan

    Working with Kellogg’s in the cereal industry, I realize how tough it is for a new product to make a big splash in the market. I remember reading an article not to long ago focused on why Americans are abandoning cereal. The reasons included families having less children, people being “too busy”, and health conscious attitudes (http://www.businessinsider.com/3-reasons-americans-are-abandoning-cereal-2015-2). It boggled my mind that consumers believed they were too busy to pour themselves a bowl of Froot Loops in the morning! That being said, I personally purchase cereals that are better for me (Cheerios), can replace a meal (Vector), or resonate with me from a young age (Frosted Flakes, they’re great). Although I am just outside of the Tiny Toast target market, I would not have purchased the cereal when I was 18, and frankly don’t know of anyone else who would. The product’s packaging looks like it should tailor to children, and flavours don’t exactly spark originality. I believe that the only way for new cereals to succeed in the current declining market is to co-brand with a popular product, or come out with something entirely unique. For example, Nutella products have been a hit at Tim Hortons. General Mills could partner with everyone’s favourite chocolate hazelnut spread and create a cereal that oozes Nutella flavour. I’ll be interested to see how Tiny Toast does in the market, and will look for it the next time I go to the Froot Loop (cereal) aisle.

  4. Iorio, Di

    I have worked in the cereal industry as well and note the difficulty of this declining market. I believe that General Mills does have the capability to succeed with the Tiny Toast cereal if they take a different marketing approach, primarily the different usages for cereal. Most individuals today are not sitting down for a bowl of cereal and milk in the morning, instead the growing trend has been acai bowls and other smoothie based bowls. If they can leverage this growing trend and showcase how Tiny Toast can be used as an additional ‘crunch’ to add to ones smoothie bowl, people may feel enticed to go and purchase it.

    Additionally, I believe this cereal would fit the ‘grab and go’ snack market. Most cereals that have a crunch, such as Honey Nut Cheerios, Mini Wheats, etc. have been used as an alternative to other snacks (such as granola bars), by putting in a plastic bag and snacking on throughout the day whether at work or school.

  5. Adam Fisher

    I think the product tiny toast is unlikely to be successful for a number of reasons. First, is that humans are creatures of habit and although there is a movement towards healthier products at the end of the day what you likely grew up with is what you will purchase. For example, I grew up eating honey-nut cheerios and during high school would not have changed simply because I was comfortable with the product I had been consuming for so long, I knew it was good and was happy with what I was getting. Additionally, as pointed out above the target market does not seem plausible considering the packaging and overall presentation of the product. A younger demographic that is not yet loyal to a brand and that could be intrigued by the packaging should have been targeted possibly 10-13 year olds. Third, in general as the industry is in decline and people continue to live life on-the-go cereal bars, meal replacement drinks, etc are more viable and popular options taking away a lot of the consumers this product could appeal to.

  6. Brittany Kubicz

    The health trend for consumers wanting natural, wholesome, nutritious products with limited additives, including colouring and sugar is not going away anytime soon. I think GM is trying to be strategic by creating a new cereal to differentiate from it’s previous products but I do not think it is innovative enough to gain a lot of traction and demand. General Mills has the portfolio strength for such a diversification, but I do not believe this new brand will reinvigorate the cereal aisle. The shelves are still dominated by the larger brands including Cheerios and Lucky Charms, and General Mills already has organic breakfast cereal brands. I think a better strategy would be to re-position their already strong brands (mentioned above) with a natural-based positioning. They are brands consumers have already grown to love and for many they are a staple breakfast cereal for their family. Redesigning them to be free from artificial colours and flavours would have a larger impact on the overall performance of General Mills in this category versus having to create new marketing and targeting from the ground up with a new product. But, in order for this new brand to succeed it will need to effectively target this 15-18 age group so it does not overlap with it’s similar product’s audience, which could risk cannibalization.

  7. Dawn Simons

    I think we can all commend General Mills for trying to offer a healthier cereal and launching its first new cereal in over 15 years. However, I can personally attest to the frustration the cereal aisle brings to consumers in grocery stores. I have been trying to find a good tasting cereal with under 6 grams of sugar for years and have failed multiple times. I now avoid the cereal aisle like the plague and have completely changed up my breakfast routine. After a quick Google search, I checked the sugar content in this new cereal and it still contains 9 grams of sugar and it is the third ingredient on the package. This seems far to high for a cereal that is trying to be a healthier alternative. A lot of millennials are now educated on the benefits of starting your day right with a nutritious breakfast. In addition, I agree with Drew that the packaging seems targeted towards a younger demographic because of the font, colouring, and even the name of the cereal. Another key thing to point out is the typical buyers of these products are the mothers of these 15-18 year olds. Many products already offer all natural flavour and no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colours, therefore I feel this is not a very revolutionary change. I think that the steep decline of the cereal product market is so strong that a product that is not that revolutionary isn’t going to change these consumers who I feel are already too far gone.

  8. Mallory Fantham

    I think they have a potential to generate sales for this NPI as long as they position it in the right way. With the trend toward health-conscious food consumption, cereal purchases are on the decline as a breakfast food, as consumers are turning more towards fruit and eggs as a healthier alternative.
    However, a growing trend is cereal consumption as an afternoon or late-night snack. Compared to other snacks that a consumer could have (e.g. chips, crackers, candy), this could be positioned as a more nutritional alternative. Consumers who do not currently eat cereal as a snack may be inclined to try this because it’s a healthy option. Consumers who do currently eat cereal as a snack may switch to this option because of its healthy nutritional facts as compared to other cereals that consumers may be consuming (e.g. Fruit Loops).
    Thus, the success of this cereal is all in its positioning and effective targeting, rather than simply the product category itself.

  9. Royce Mok

    I think that it is nice of General Mills to have created a new cereal that is targeting the healthy segment. However, I feel that there are also many other cereals that are advertising that they are healthy so it seems to lack a lot of impact which they would need in order to gain a large market share. I also wonder if targeting 15-18 years old with this positioning strategy would be effective as the healthy cereal market is saturated so it would need convincing evidence to show that it is clearly the better alternative. All in all, the cereal seems to lack the necessary impact in order to gain a large market share for GM.

  10. Jacquelynn Cort

    According to a study conducted by Kellogg’s, 56% of people would prefer to eat breakfast every day, but only 42% actually do (http://newsroom.kelloggcompany.com/news-releases?item=131528). This is because of the lack of time and appetite in the morning. The specific reasoning to why individuals are avoiding cereal is because many don’t find it to have sufficient nutritional value to them. In the same Kellogg’s survey, 45% of respondents cite cereal being less nutritious as a reason why they eat it less often. With this information, I don’t find that this new cereal by General Mills will have a successful launch.

    According to the first issue of the lack of time in the morning, individuals are looking for even quicker options then cereals today. For example, many breakfast bars have gained popularity as an easier substitute. Kellogg’s now offer a variety of breakfast bars under different brands, such as their Special K Red Berries Cereal Bar. Thus, I don’t think that by General Mills offering another typical cereal is going to solve this ongoing issue for consumers.

    Although this product offers a cereal with no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colours or flavours there are still various healthier options out there. General Mills would have to fight the stigmatism around cereals being an unhealthy breakfast choice. With even the packaging, it looks like the product would be very artificial due to the bright colors and typical cartoon design. Also, the name “Tiny Toast” doesn’t even sound the healthiest and personally I think of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, another cereal brand that is associated with lacking nutritional value. I think Kellogg’s shouldn’t target the product to 15-18 year olds. This is when females are becoming concerned with their body image and are looking for more nutritious options. In summary, General Mills has to come up with a healthier product since this product is subpar. In comparison, Kellogg’s has many brands that produce cereals such as Vector and Special K that are targeted towards health-conscious individuals.

    General Mills should learn from Kellogg’s strategy on how to keep up with the trend of busy, health-conscious consumers.


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