EXPERT VIEW

Cereal Partners marketing director Linda Mills gives her opinion.

SBHD: Cereal Partners marketing director Linda Mills gives her opinion.

Achieving growth in the cereal market is difficult. Virtually everyone eats cereal, households consume 15 or 20 different products a year and, with several brands being bought at any one time, there is not much room to grow.

Habitual purchase is high, but the wide portfolios mean relatively few products are purchased monthly – just a few “basic” brands such as Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix. This leaning towards “basic” cereals is unique to the UK. Only the British have such a strong preference for “unfussy” products.

Cereal is probably the category with the most choice available in stores, with a lot of repertoire brands and good quality, price-competitive own-labels. So much happens at the shelf. Women will arrive with a shortlist of five or six products, all of which are acceptable in nutritional terms, and the on-pack promotion acts as a tie-breaker. She may have children with her and choose a pack with something like the Nesquik colour-changing spoon to appeal to them. Often you can mention the promotion in the ads to act as an extra lever.

Cereal is not a very forgiving market. The high cost of advertising in such a high-spending market, traditionally dominated by one company, means you cannot launch in a casual way.

You have to push hard to break through, and have to offer something new, taking advantage of developments in new technology, eating habits and tastes.

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