Stealing Share's Analysis and advice

A Market Study On The Breakfast Cereal Category

March 17, 2023

The Decade of Decline: Unraveling the Shrinking Breakfast Cereal Category

Breakfast cereals, especially those loaded with sugar, are losing market share to many competitors. Yogurt, breakfast bars, and even fast food eat their…breakfast.

Over the past decade, the breakfast cereal category has experienced a significant decline, leaving industry experts pondering the reasons behind this puzzling trend. Breakfast cereals have been a staple in households worldwide for many years, providing a convenient and nutritious start to the day.

 However, changing consumer preferences, shifting dietary trends, and increased competition from alternative breakfast options have contributed to the shrinking of this once-thriving market.

Changing Consumer Preferences

Breakfast cerealOne of the primary reasons for the decline in the breakfast cereal category (read a case study about 7-up here) is the shift in consumer preferences towards healthier, fresher, and more natural food options.

As awareness about nutrition and the importance of a balanced diet has grown, consumers are becoming more health-conscious.

]They seek products low in sugar, sodium, and artificial additives, which has led many to perceive traditional breakfast cereals as less healthy due to their high sugar content and processed ingredients.

Dietary Trends and Lifestyle Changes

The rise of various dietary trends, such as gluten-free, paleo, keto, and plant-based diets, has also impacted the breakfast cereal category.

Many traditional cereal products contain gluten and are high in carbohydrates which some individuals avoid following specific dietary guidelines. People adopting these specialized diets are more likely to seek alternative breakfast options that align with their nutritional needs.

Furthermore, the changing lifestyles of consumers have played a role in the decline of cereal consumption. With busier schedules and an increased emphasis on on-the-go eating, breakfast cereals may not fit into the fast-paced routines of modern consumers.

 Quick and convenient options like smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast bars have become more popular alternatives to traditional cereals.

Competition from Breakfast Alternatives

The breakfast market has become saturated with many alternatives catering to diverse tastes and dietary preferences. Fast-food chains, coffee shops, and restaurants have expanded their breakfast menus to include various options, from breakfast sandwiches to avocado toast.

These alternatives offer more variety and indulgence, enticing consumers looking to start their day with a treat.

Moreover, the popularity of meal kit delivery services and online grocery shopping has provided consumers with more accessible and creative breakfast options.

As a result, people opt to experiment with different recipes and prepare healthier, customized breakfasts at home, reducing their reliance on ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.

Pricing and Economic Factors

Economic fluctuations and changes in purchasing power have impacted consumer buying behaviors. We perceive breakfast cereals as more expensive than other breakfast choices like oatmeal or toast.

During periods of economic uncertainty, consumers tend to gravitate towards more affordable alternatives, which might contribute to the decline in cereal sales.

Marketing and Advertising Strategies

Breakfast cerealWhile breakfast cereal brands have traditionally been known for their strong marketing and advertising efforts, they have faced challenges in recent years.

With the rise of digital media and online platforms, traditional marketing methods may not have the same impact on younger, tech-savvy consumers. Additionally, health concerns and criticisms about the nutritional value of cereals have led to a shift in how brands communicate with consumers.

The breakfast cereal category has experienced a steady decline over the past decade due to changing consumer preferences, dietary trends, lifestyle shifts, increasing competition from alternative breakfast options, economic factors, and evolving marketing strategies.

For the industry to reverse this trend, breakfast cereal brands must adapt to consumers’ evolving needs and desires by offering healthier, more personalized options that align with modern lifestyles and preferences. 

What happened? And what can those brands of cold cereal do to take back market share? Even the Kellogg brand is seeing quickly declining sales.

What should the competitors (yogurt, bars, etc.) fear going forward? To truly understand this market, let’s begin by looking at the birth of the ready-to-eat breakfast market


For decades, the traditional breakfast food for the masses was oat-based porridge (a breakfast cereal). While the wealthy ate meat-based breakfasts.

As a result, as the market became increasingly affluent in the US, porridges and other cereals were replaced by a slice of upwardly mobile aspirational meat and egg-based breakfasts. The old cooked cereals were seen as plebeian. In the late 1800s, health movements blossomed in the US. And these reformers encouraged health-conscious Americans to reduce meat consumption at breakfast.

We directly trace the most significant change to the morning diet to one of the world’s greatest brands — Kellogg. And the Seventh Day Adventist’s beginnings.

The rise of Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg was a health and fitness force in his time. For many decades, his sanitarium in Michigan was a recovery destination for well-to-do Americans.

Health retreats at his sanatorium were more immersive of an experience than ranch spas and adventure spas of today. And the influential and wealthy retreated there for a rest cure.

Kellogg’s religious belief emphasized exercise and vegetarianism, leading him to invent ready-to-eat breakfast foods made of grains for his visitors. Eventually, Kellogg of Battle Creek was born. Today, the Kellogg brand is synonymous with Corn Flakes and many other breakfast cereals.


Charles W. Post, a salesman admitted to Kellogg’s sanitarium, was impressed with the all-grain diet. As a result, he began experimenting with grain products. So, in 1898, he introduced Grape Nuts.

Now, the war was on over breakfast products. A war that continues to this day. Cooked breakfast cereal took their own path, coinciding with the ready-to-eat cereals of Kellogg and Post.

Quaker Oats

The American Cereal Company (Quaker Oats) created an oatmeal cereal in 1877. It invented a brand using the Quaker Oats’ “Man in Quaker Garb. “As a result, the Quaker Man was a symbol of plain honesty and reliability. It gave Quaker Oats annual sales of $10 million.

Alexander Anderson’s creation of a steam-pressure method changed the game.

The new device shoots rice from guns producing puffed rice and puffed wheat, and another breakfast meal was invented without meat.


The brands started associating with celebrities such as Babe Ruth and Shirley Temple. By 1964, the Quaker Oats Company sold over 200 products, grossing over $500 million.

The company claimed that eight million people ate Quaker Oats each day. In 2001, the much larger PepsiCo bought Quaker Oats, which continues to be a success. In 2017, sales rose 1% in North America.

Oatmeal has long been a staple of the hot cereal market

As a result, Kellogg’s reasons are that packaged, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal is more convenient than a cooked product. At the time, Battle Creek, Michigan, was a center for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. And it soon became the center of the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal industry.

Both Kellogg and Post were in Battle Creek, Michigan.  So, the city became nicknamed the “Breakfast Cereal Capital of the World.”

A maturing category

As the category matured, marketing took on a more significant role. (Read another study on frozen food.) It did not take long to link breakfast cereals as the healthier choice over meats.

More importantly, children made the choice. So, breakfast cereals were marketed to them.

Brands such as Froot Loops and Sugar Crisps, Cap’n Crunch, and Fruity Pebbles emerged. The sugar cereal was born.

Breakfast cereal around the world

Force Wheat Flakes became the first ready-to-eat breakfast cereal in the UK at the turn of the last century. The cereal peaked in 1930, selling 12.5 million packages in just one year.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the ’30s saw the rise and interest in puffed breakfast cereal. The first puffed cereal was Kix, the result of marketing pushing R&D for new and exciting products to build the “puffed” category.

General Mills

As a result, General Mills entered the market in 1924 with Wheaties. Almost immediately, General Mills marketed to children a variety of cereals. They added sugar To attract children better. Over time, sugar became the main ingredient.

Think about this. Today’s Sugar Smacks carry 56% sugar by weight. (Read about Cinnamon Toast Crunch here) Spokespersons and mascots helped position the brands for children. Many are still familiar today.

The Rice Krispy’s elves, Tony the Tiger, Trix Rabbit, and the trending sports figures on Wheaties (the Breakfast of Champions) are all icons.

A World View

Canada has many if not all, US-based breakfast cereals in its market. But cooked breakfast cereals, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, and Red River remain the most typical. And China is famous for rice congee (a type of porridge) eaten for breakfast. Meanwhile, Ireland is still renowned for its oatmeal. And the most famous variety of these is steel-cut oatmeal (like McCann’s).

The full Irish breakfast of eggs, sausages, broiled tomato, and pudding competes with oatmeal. Looking around the world, breakfast cereal – especially the sugar-loaded variety – is almost an entirely American staple. Breakfast cereal took off in the 50s with the birth of baby boomers.

Milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereal (mostly Kellogg’s, Post, and General Mills) represented the breakfast of Americans.

The 60’s

In the mid-’60s, however, the market began the change. More and more mothers began to work outside the home. And families eating together for breakfast became more and more unusual. The focus turned to even quicker solutions for breakfast.

Carnation launched its Instant Breakfast, which was in taste and nutrition not much different than chocolate milk.

Pop-Tarts hit the market, and the sweetened toaster pastry became an accepted way to start your child’s day.

The last 25 Years

But the real change in breakfast habits can be seen in the last 25 years. Beyond yogurt and cheese, dairy consumption is down in the US, with a turn from carbohydrates to protein consumption.

 Milk consumption has been steadily declining since 1970. Even more revealing, the average American consumes less than two cups of dairy per day, a cup less than recommended by the USDA. As a result, the trend is nearly destroying the orange juice market and has also taken its toll on breakfast foods.

So, in many ways, the market has come full circle, back to the very protein-heavy diet that caused Mr. Kellogg to revolt and express a different view.

At a crossroads

Today, the breakfast cereal industry stands at a crossroads. The emergence of Greek yogurt and protein bars indicates market flux. Even diet cereal brands like Special K are extending their brands to breakfast bars. And Quaker markets breakfast bars, rolled oats, and steel-cut oats that require 30 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Raisin Bran, and Sugar Frosted Flakes fight for ever-decreasing shelf space. So, what’s needed?

Where will the market go? What has happened to breakfast cereals, and what can be done about it?

Why the slip?

Breakfast cerealYou can see the slip in overall market share and within the primary companies themselves. In 2017, Kellogg began a severe workforce cut – more than 11,000 workers – Former Senator Robert Casey Jr (D., PA) asked Kellogg to clarify its plans.

He was so alarmed. In early 2018, Kellogg, the second largest provider of cold cereal behind General Mills, reported breakfast cereal sales declining by 5%, continuing the downward trend. (The company’s growth comes from snacks.)

General Mills performs better with its cereal, primarily led by the Cheerios brand, which has less sugar than most others. There are numerous reasons, and we’ll start with the most obvious.

Cold breakfast cereal just isn’t the only choice. As mentioned above, Yogurt is snowballing, having taken a 40% share of the US ready-to-eat breakfast market.

Energy and cereal bars

Then there are the energy and cereal bars entering the competitive fray, ironically made by Kellogg, General Mills, and Post.

They represent only one competitive segment killing breakfast cereals. There’s also the expansion of breakfast menus at fast food restaurants. As that category has shrunk, many find breakfast the only growing day part.

That’s why you see Taco Bell, of all places, open for breakfast. McDonalds’s even performed better in because it offered breakfast all day. There’s increased competition from all angles, event store brands. Combine all the store brands, and they are the market leader. Far ahead of General Mills and Kellogg.


But the increased competition is only one of the factors pushing breakfast cereals downhill. Foremost, there is a perceived unhealthiness of cereal—especially those in the sugar category, which is about more than perception.

It’s the truth. Studies show many breakfast cereals have one spoonful of sugar for every three spoonful’s of breakfast cereal. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Post’s Golden Crisps have as much sugar as a Twinkie.

The truth is that many cereals are LOADED with sugar.

Behavior Changes

Breakfast behavior has also changed, especially among those in the younger demographic. And those are the most likely to eat cereal. However, they look for convenient food, like breakfast bars and fast food. They snack. And don’t sit down to eat. Additionally, in the US, there are fewer younger people.

The birth rate has been in a five-year decline, with children below 17 becoming the smallest segment of the US population.

The birth rate in the US sits at an all-time low. In essence, the target audience for cereal is shrinking.

The cold breakfast cereal playing field

breakfast cerealIf you look at the individual brands, it’s difficult to draw any hard conclusions. The private label category makes money among the cereals, as mentioned before. But if we’re examining just the individual brands,

Cheerios holds the first, the first, and fifth spots among the brands, with the sub-brand Honey Nut Cheerios on top. What’s shocking is how so many of them saw sales dip from Frosted Mini Wheats (a cereal marketed as healthy but loaded with sugar) dropping nearly 6%.

More than half of the top 9 brands sport declining sales. The confusing part?

Cheerios gained a 3.6% increase in sales while Lucky Charms, which admittedly has less sugar than others, and Froot Loops also rose.

What is happening here?

Honey Nut Cheerios focuses on honey. Its brand is “Must be the Honey,” using a bee named Buzz as its mascot/equity marker, targeting it toward children.

And its ads are very upbeat, often ending with Buzz tapping the cereal with his honey dipper.

Still, Honey Nut Cheerios is a sugar cereal, but it borrows the whole grain of Cheerios and claims to lower cholesterol.

Most importantly, it gains meaning from the Cheerios brand.

The chink in sugar-marketed cereal

Then there is a cereal brand like Trix, which uses the Trix Rabbit, whose said, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!”

But Trix has declined in market share, becoming one of the many kinds of cereal facing the wrath of marketing sugar to children. Trix didn’t have the cover of the overall Cheerios brand.

As a result of marketing, Cheerios’ yellow box is instantly recognizable. And even nostalgic for some.

It is currently marketed under the “Love” tagline. But promotes itself as being good for a healthy heart.

The Cereal Ad Campaigns

breakfast cerealCheerios have even introduced a new campaign, hoping to grow the cold cereal market. It is called the Family Breakfast Project. “When families eat breakfast together, amazing things happen.”

This campaign directly takes on the changing trends of breakfast (needing fast meals, snacks, etc.). It encourages viewers to return to the breakfast table.

That approach comes close to what breakfast cereals should do.

However, this campaign is a little soft in the belly, unable to capture its youthful target audiences in the fast-paced world of texts and cell phones.

This approach to eating at the breakfast table isn’t emotionally important.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is still among the market leaders, holding the fifth spot in most surveys. But its more than 8% drop speaks to a falling brand. Cinnamon Toast Crunch uses a character or two like most sugary breakfast cereals.

In this case, they are the individual cereal squares that live in the bowl. Its position remains “Crave Those Crazy Squares,” a strategy still marketing on taste. Even the line, “Sugar on the outside, crazy on the inside,” doesn’t address current trends much.

Despite the recent bump, we expect declining sales to re-emerge.

The problem with marketing sugar

There’s a deep problem with basing marketing on taste (i.e., sugar). EVERYONE does it. Even if it were a reason to buy a particular brand of cereal, it doesn’t represent a valid choice because so many cereal brands are marketing on sweet taste.

This is a problem and not just for breakfast cereal. The messaging, tone, and look are all the same. So, they are often seen together as one bunch. As a result, the main message for these cereals? Sugar!

Healthy Breakfast Cereal

There is a steady demise of breakfast cereal afoot. But the separation between “healthy” and “sugary” cereals has remained intact.

breakfast cerealYou can easily find a box of Grape Nuts or Kashi for every box of Cap’n Crunch on the supermarket shelves.

In a 2017 report by Mintel, “It’s all about the sugar: the cereal industry is one of the biggest users of the ingredient in its products. Studies show that breakfast cereals have a 1:3 ratio.” To counterbalance the decline, cereal makers are introducing healthier options, reducing sugar…

More organic cereals are on the shelves today, as there are gluten-free and non-GMO options. The public’s desire to live a healthy lifestyle has become important. This means that to be healthy, cereals MUST be healthy to meet the needs of the masses.

 Cereal makers can’t treat healthy options only for a fringe group of shoppers. Special K is one of the industry’s most interesting case studies. Like many cereals, Special K sales have been slipping each year since 2012, dropping 26% in the last six years.

Yet, it remains one of Kellogg’s most influential brands. The cereal maker leverages Special K’s health brand in breakfast bars, sandwiches, chips, and shakes. How did it get here?

What made Special K stand out? It owns the position of being the healthiest cereal by promising a certain lifestyle, targeting women. And it challenges eaters to meet it.

The Special K Challenge

Special K has mustered a challenge for consumers, the famous “Special K Challenge.” “For meal number one, you may have a serving of any Special K BreakCereal bars and toaster pastries are among the bright spots in the breakfast food category.

In fact, along with yogurt, they represent the only growing segment of the category itself. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts owns the segment, with sales crushing all competitors.

breakfast cerealIts $331 million in sales dwarf all the private label brands five times over.

Meal #1— Cereal with 2/3-cup skim milk and fruit.

At meal number two, you may have a Special K Protein Meal Bar. Or a Special K Protein Shake or another serving of Special K cereal. (with 2/3 cup skim milk and fruit),” Special K. Special K continues, “Meal number three can be eaten normally.

Throughout the day, consume two Special K snacks. Choosing from Special K Protein Snack Bars and Special K2O Protein Water Mixes. Or Special K Cereal Bars, Special K Crackers, or Special K Fruit Crisps. For additional snacks, one may consume fruits and vegetables. Drinks may be consumed normally.”

The key here is consuming Special K products all day long. But Kellogg overplayed its hand. By offering so many products under the Special K banner, it began cannibalizing itself, pouring dollars into a brand stretched too thin.

To truly understand what’s happening in the breakfast cereal market, we must understand its competition.

The products are strengthening the bottom lines of Kellogg, General Mills, Post, and others, while their standby cereals lag.

Cereal bars and toaster pastries

Cereal bars and toaster pastries are among the bright spots in the breakfast food category. In fact, along with yogurt, they represent the only growing segment of the category itself. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts owns the segment, with sales crushing all competitors. Its $331 million in sales dwarf all the private label brands five times over.


Pop-Tarts arrived simultaneously as iconic cereal brands Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops, and Frosted Mini-Wheats. But it was positioned against those cereals, despite the best intentions of Kellogg. Pop-Tarts don’t require milk to eat. Instead, all one needs is a toaster. (And many eat them cold).

However, when it launched in the ’60s, Kellogg was so protective of the cereal business that it created a set of detailed instructions for store operators.

Pop-Tarts could not be placed near the cereal because Kellogg didn’t want consumers to think it was a substitute for cereal.

Times have changed

Times sure have changed. Pop-Tarts continue to grow as a breakfast option. Kellogg markets it toward the youth market, using taglines like “made for fun” and the current “Crazy Good.” A peanut butter option features a Pop-Tart swimming in peanut butter to promote the new “Gone Nutty” offerings.

While meaningless, Pop-Tarts’ advertising borders on relentless.

Kellogg has invested heavily in the Pop-Tarts brand. And, although it misses the boat on meaning, it more than makes up for it in frequency. 

Innovation in Pop-Tarts

Kellogg says that one of the reasons Pop-Tarts remains a success is because of innovation, such as the “Gone Nutty” offerings and college-branded Pop-Tarts. Kellogg has also “innovated” through cobranding.

Breakfast cerealUsing SpongeBob SquarePants as well as Hello Kitty and Barbie. And even Hardees sports a Pop-Tart ice cream sandwich. You can even order a box of Pop-Tarts with your name on it.

“Innovation” and advertising frequency, however, are not what has made the Pop-Tarts brand a success. The brand has been successful because it naturally adapted to changing consumer tastes and behaviors. Pop-Tarts can be eaten cold, toasted, or, more importantly, on the go. Pop-Tarts Snak-Stix was created as an after-school or on-the-go snack.

From a message standpoint, the Snak-Stix failed because consumers didn’t want Kellogg telling them how they should eat them. But the product’s versatility made it initially successful – and a sign of things to come.

Toaster Strudels

Toaster Strudel has expanded the Pop-Tart category and has hurt the breakfast cereal market. General Mills/Pillsbury introduced the world to the Toaster Strudel in 1985, claiming it to be part of the “hot, flaky breakfast revolution.”

It does about a third of the revenue Pop-Tarts does. And its sales have been soft lately, falling 1% over the last year. As yummy as they are, Toaster Strudels will never catch Pop-Tarts because they must be heated. That makes them less of a viable on-the-go option.

While Kellogg was reluctant to position Pop-Tarts against cereals (and it happened anyway), Pillsbury’s Toaster Strudel embraces being the anti-cereal. It was a wise position because any market share comes at the expense of cereal.

Cereal Bars

The category of breakfast bars represents a mix of granola bars, energy bars, protein bars, and cereal bars. Kellogg’s Nutri-Gran Bars are the market leader, reaping over $112 million in 2017. General Mills Milk ‘ Cereal Bars, Quaker Fruit & Oatmeal, the Special K bar, and Slim Fast Sank Options comprise the top five.

You can place them in two markets. 1) Health. And 2) For lack of a better term, “not-health.” For example, most people would not look at a Rice-Krispy bar and think of health. It is Rice-Krispy’s cereal congealed with marshmallows. You can say the same about Golden Graham bars and the like. 

Clif Bars

However, Clif Bars has a reputation for being a healthier choice. However, it (like some Nutrigrain bars) is high in sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.

They may not be healthy traditionally, but they don’t reside in the Rice Krispy bar category. From a positioning perspective, only a couple of basic positions bars occupy.

Snack/side item or meal replacement.


You have the unhealthy Rice Krispy bar and Lucky Charms Treats on the snack side. Etc. On the other side, the healthier granola bars, Nutrigrain bars, and Nature Valley. As a result, many of the bars position themselves not against each other but against cereal. Even breakfast, in general.

So, bars like the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk and other cereal bars (Cocoa Puffs and Honey Nut Cheerios also have a version) position against traditional cereal.

“When you don’t have time for a bowl of Cocoa Puffs, take it on the go with you.” Even Quaker’s cereal bars are similarly positioned.

Meal Replacements

There are a whole host of protein, energy, and fiber bars on the meal replacement side. This is the area with the most growth potential. For example, as healthy and on-the-go converge, Clif Bar promotes its Mojo Bar as “Energize your day.”

The meal replacement bars seem to be healthier. And they tend to be more serious in imagery and tone in advertising, web, and point of purchase.

The more “snacky” you get, the less serious it becomes.

Yogurt and Breakfast Cereals

While cereal consumption is declining, yogurt sales have been skyward for years. Sales are now plateauing as market leaders begin to take hold. Yogurt appeals to both a younger and older audience. And it can serve as a replacement meal for any breakfast item. (Heck, many eat yogurt as a snack.) What makes this group such fervent yogurt lovers?

For the kids of these parents (now in that 18-34 demographic), it is natural to have yogurt for breakfast rather than a bowl of cereal.

It’s an easy breakfast item

breakfast cerealLet’s face it, traditional breakfast cereals take time to eat, and you can’t bring them with you. And yogurt is small and quick, and you only need a spoon (or a squeeze). Just as importantly, yogurt is eaten as a meal at any time during the day.

 It’s not limited to just breakfast. In fact, Consumer Corner’s retail study on the yogurt industry noted that “Refrigerated yogurts are the eighth largest selling subcategory in food, drug, and mass market.”

Specifically, 45% of yogurt eaters consume it for breakfast. While 32% consume at lunch, or in the late afternoon (32%), late morning (25%), or late night (25%).

With such widespread appeal, yogurt has become the best bet for breakfast eaters.

Yogurt is healthy

Here’s where Greek Yogurt comes into play. Greek yogurt stands out from the other styles of yogurt with its rich and creamy texture. And the health benefits are abundant.

There’s more protein. And, when you strain the lactose in Greek yogurt, the yogurt loses its sugar and carbohydrates.

Greek yogurt has taken over the market. It’s one of the most popular dairy products periods, with sales of nearly $8 billion in the US.


That has been a wise move. Because there is a general belief among consumers that you always get what you paid for. Stealing Share has tested that precept with target audiences.

 And it always comes back emotionally intensive, no matter the category. Being priced slightly higher than the competition tells the audience you might be better. And “might be” can be enough to be considered. It’s working for Chobani. Business Insider recently shared that “[Chobani] now produces 2.2 million cases of yogurt a week.”

Its sales surpassed $2 billion in 2016, beating Yoplait. In 2017, Chobani commanded a 37.6% market share of the US Greek yogurt market and 19.8% of the total yogurt market.

Kid's yogurt

Kid’s yogurt brands are rising. From brands available for infants (YoBaby) to drinkable yogurt smoothies (Danimals) to squeezable bags (Plum Organics, Yogurt Mashups), an untapped market is emerging. The craziest of all is cereal-flavored yogurts.

Kids’ yogurt, like Yoplait, brands itself as the healthiest and quickest breakfast alternative for children. Kid’s yogurt is filled with nutritional benefits. It can provide a quick serving of calcium, protein, and a litany of the necessary vitamins and minerals for a growing body.

With so many options, seeing that trend increase wouldn’t be surprising.

breakfast cerealThe fact is that breakfast cereal may never recapture the prominence it once held. But it still has the top spot among all breakfast options. It’s still a multi-billion dollar industry, with more than 92% of households reporting eating cereal at least once yearly. But the time has passed when the brands see their market share rise again without significant rebranding.

That’s because people have changed. We are on-the-go types, learning from technology (think your smartphone) that everything can be taken on the run. Plus, it’s not just adults who have changed. Children have too.

They are taught by technology that it is an eat-in-your-car era. Especially for pre-teens and teens, eating at the breakfast table seems childish or old-fashioned. 

Living Longer

There are other factors, of course. We are also healthier, living longer by watching what we eat. As a result, fewer parents are willing to feed their children sugary cereal that makes them obese. Even those unconcerned with health can opt for the growing breakfast sector among fast food chains. In the face of that, what are traditional breakfast cereals to do? Well, for one thing, they need to rebrand aggressively.

Because the model they’ve followed, especially for sugary cereals, is the same as it was decades ago.

Branding. The same old crap

This much is true. The sugary cereals always feature a cartoon character, emphasizing fun and hoping kids clamor for it. The problem is that there is no differentiation.

Characters are interchangeable from each other in terms of meaning, which means there is very little reason to prefer one over the other.

In an environment where sugary breakfast cereals are becoming less valued, it’s time for a different strategy. But there is a process to understanding those consumers.

One based on belief systems and switching triggers. We have specifically developed this system to uncover the drivers of breakfast consumers.

It dives deeper than simply taste and even deeper than health.

We’re talking about emotion

In this way, a breakfast cereal can better define its brand so that it is coveted by adults and children alike. So, many cereals – even the most successful ones – look out of touch right now.

If they don’t update their brands, they will go the way of Life, Rice Krispy’s, and Corn Flakes as brands falling rapidly. This also goes for the market.

The manufacturers can use those powerful triggers to sell the cereal category as relevant today. They would raise the waters for all, although it may never regain its peak.

But it can stop the bleeding.

Don’t stop there

breakfast cerealIt’s not just cereals who should beware. Treads are just that. They are trends. Meaning that if the yogurts and bars don’t learn the lesson of the cereals, they’ll see their market share dwindle. Right now, yogurts are riding the crests of a new wave.

But the individual brands also look and sound, and taste alike. If they don’t differentiate themselves – especially in using the consumer’s emotional triggers – they will become just trendy. So be warned, yogurts and breakfast bars.

While riding high now, you are neglecting to build meaningful brands. This means you are just as vulnerable as the cereals were when you took their market share.

It’s high time to hire a rebranding company. And don’t think we need to tell you that not all rebranding companies are equal.