Kellogg’s Special K® – Setting the (Cereal) Bar Higher
Once upon a time, the cereal category was simple, but over the last decade, food manufacturers have created a host of innovative new entrants to the category – and no brand has done it better than the Kellogg Company with their Special K line. In 2006, BusinessWeek.com writer and marketing pundit, David Kiley, predicted that “Kellogg will run up against what every ambitious consumer marketer eventually faces: a case of brand extension greed.” But four years later, that prediction hasn’t materialized. Kellogg has sustained healthy success, generating nearly $13 billion in 2009 sales, by continuing to introduce low calorie cereal and snack options. Most of the products in the Special K line build on the famous “Special K diet” and provide versatile weight management solutions that are marketed toward a largely female consumer segment. Special K has even crossed aisles to energy/performance foods and frozen meals. But the two most recent launches, Special K Low-Fat Granola Cereal and Special K Fruit Crisps, seek to continue the trend of cereal category dominance.
For the new launch, Special K used a heavy dose of social media outreach. In addition to leveraging a huge Facebook fan base of over 34,000, free samples of the Fruit Crisps were provided to ‘mommy bloggers’ to create awareness, generate buzz, promote product trial and engage consumers. They also posted coupons for Facebook fans to try the new product. In addition, during January, the all important New Year’s Resolution month, Kellogg reached out to thousands of Special K lovers and brand advocates, and positioned the Low-Fat Granola Cereal as a New Year’s resolution tip on their Web site and Facebook page. Complementing the social media strategy, Kellogg issued a press release (New Year, New Food: Kellogg® Introduces Two New Ways to Recharge Your Resolution With Special K®), followed by television commercials.
The Kellogg Company seems to find creative ways to align their brand with the lifestyles and everyday challenges of their target customers. The Victory Project includes a Web site tracking the journey of 12 women in three U.S. cities who shared the common goal of losing weight before one of the biggest moments in their lives, such as 29 year-old Rebecca’s fitness test for her police exam. The Victory Project Web site offers tools, tips, articles, discussions, and video profiles of these women succeeding at implementing a new, healthy lifestyle.
There’s no question that Kellogg has set the cereal bar higher by establishing new products at regular intervals under the Special K weight management brand. Now, they have created a new innovation with the flatter and flakier Fruit Crisps. It will be interesting to track the success of these ‘newbies’ in Kellogg’s arsenal of products: Will the Fruit Crisps cannibalize existing cereal bar sales? Will the low fat granola do likewise? More importantly, how long can Kellogg’s Special K brand continue to grow before competitors steal market share or the category becomes saturated? I guess we’ll just wait and see while we watch our weight with Special K.