Weetabix on why TV is ‘very hard to beat’ for ROI

Weetabix head of brand Kevin Verbruggen explains why the cereal giant is ploughing £10m in above the line advertising in a bid to become “even more relevant” with consumers.


Armed with a £10m investment from its new US parent company Post Holdings, Weetabix is hoping a mixture of TV advertising and shopper marketing will help the cereal brand stay top of mind with consumers.

“We want to become even more relevant and that’s everything from being front of mind and to making sure that we’ve got a regular presence in media. The very best way we’re seeing to do that is through regular TV advertising,” explains Weetabix head of brand, Kevin Verbruggen.

“Coupled with that we need to make sure that we’re prominent in-store, so it’s about making it quick and easy for consumers to buy our products. We do much less [digital marketing] than other companies, because we’re keen to make our investment as profitable as possible and it’s very hard to beat TV.”

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The latest TV campaign showing Jack of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ facing up to the giant after a hearty breakfast, also sees the return of the ‘Have you had your Weetabix?’ tagline. First launched in the 1990s, the tagline has been reintroduced for Weetabix’s 85th anniversary year because it conveys the power of a good breakfast, says Verbruggen.

“We’ve got to try and make our products as relevant to consumers today and a lot of that comes back to the fact people want a healthy breakfast. What we do know, grounded in consumer insight, is the ‘Have you had your Weetabix?’ advertising line absolutely says to people that they’re going to have a brilliant morning.”

Beyond ad spend, Post Holdings has also committed to further capital investment following its £1.4bn acquisition of Weetabix in April. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Post Holdings is a North American leader in cereal, protein shakes and granola.

Everything we do in marketing is to make it easy for shoppers to make a choice.

Kevin Verbruggen, Weetabix

Post-acquisition the situation is “business as usual”, according to Verbruggen, who says the new parent company is keen for Weetabix to continue with existing plans because the business is “making great progress at delivering strong returns on our investments.”

“We’ve got a responsibility to our business to deliver a great ROI, so we will always go for and focus upon the best return media channels that are available to us and certainly a lot of TV advertising,” he adds.

Market leading launches

Weetabix has grown its UK market share for cereals and drinks from 15.3% to 16.4% over the past year, with new product launches adding significant value to the business. Over the past two years Weetabix has dominated new launches in the cereals category, a sector which includes competitors like Kellogg’s and Quaker.

Weetabix Protein and Protein Crunch, which launched in January 2016, have added £7.5m to the business in the year to May 2017. After spotting a trend from the US for protein-based cereals Weetabix carried out two years of product development, extracting protein from a different strain of wheat to achieve higher protein levels.

Weetabix Protein

The team has also tapped into the consumer trend for positive nutrition with the launch in February of Weetabix Additions, a blend of the low sugar, high fibre Weetabix Original cereal with raisins, apple and coconut. The majority of Weetabix Additions sales have come from new customers, rather than existing customers swapping from the original product, representing additional business to the brand.

Verbruggen acknowledges that in the current market it is hard to launch new products and make them stick, which is why Weetabix takes a fact-based approach.

“What we’re doing is making sure we’re as evidence based as possible and coupling that with our creativity, so whenever we’re thinking of new products, at the front of the process we’re starting to match those ideas with our gold standard launch framework,” he explains.

READ MORE: Weetabix aims to ‘bust the myth that all cereal is created equal’ to combat sugar fears

The cereal giant has also invested in streamlining the packaging of both its new launches and original products, highlighting the landscape yellow box, Weetabix typeface “lozenge” and green healthy eating traffic lights in order to make the purchase process as seamless as possible.

“We’d love everybody, not just cereal companies but every manufacturer in grocery, to put traffic lights on things so that consumers can make a quick informed choice,” Verbruggen adds. “Everything we do in marketing is to make it easy for shoppers to make a choice.”