Kellogg’s Special K Makes a Bid for Healthy Foodies with New Nourish Line


One of Kellogg’s oldest brands, Special K, is also turning out to be one of its “newest” brands. That’s because the cereal maker has continued to expand and actually reinvent the brand for a decade now—including some major just-announced wrinkles.

For one thing, Kellogg will use the Special K sub-brand to go more aggressively after foodies who are fans of “ancient grains” with a new product called Special K Nourish hot cereal. It will be made with quinoa and other grains that are unfamiliar to most Americans who’ve grown up on cold cereals made out of staples like corn, rice and wheat. Nourish will promote a satiety benefit, filling up consumers with 8g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving but yielding only fewer than 200 calories.

What’s more, when it hits US stores in July, Special K Nourish will come in individual serving cups; consumers add water and toppings that arrive in separate compartments on the lids, according to Toppings flavors will include Mable Brown Sugar, Cranberry Almond and Cinnamon Raisin Pecan. Kellogg also will be marketing a separate line of Nourish bars in Dark Chocolate Nut, Cranberry Bliss and Lemon Twist flavors.[more]

At the same time, Kellogg is reinventing Special K in a different way in the UK market. The cereal is being reformulated to cut saturated fats by 30 percent and salt by 11 percent, according to the Daily Mail, and to boost fiber content by 80 percent. It turns out that the company also is changing its Special K formula to stop private-label imitators from so easily copying the basic Special K ingredients. Kellogg plans to keep the new Special K recipe a closely guarded secret, the newspaper said.

“There are many copycat versions of Special K on the market—a phenomenon fairly unique to the UK—but our new recipe will really stand out from the crowd as a premium, tastier product,” a company spokeswoman told the Daily Mail.

Imitators aren’t the only issue Special K has run into in the UK. Last year, it banned a tv commercial for misleading viewers about the number of calories in a bowl, suggesting the figure was 114 calories—but failing to include calories from milk, which easily could add another 100. In the new formula, sugar and calories will remain about the same.

Even as cold-cereal sales in the US have been sluggish for years, Kellogg has earned some serious better-for-you chops for Special K over the last decade or so by transforming it into a brand associated with weight loss and healthy eating. Its “Special K Challenge” ad campaign first aired in 2003, promising weight loss for women who ate Special K (and a reasonable diet) a lot. The diet was a hit, and Kellogg has kept it relevant with modern dieters by providing a sophisticated weight-management website.

Kellogg has also been churning out spinoff products, including Special K shakes and bars in 2006, cracker chips in 2009 and popcorn chips last year. In January, the line expanded again with Special K breakfast sandwiches.

Special K still doesn’t satisfy food police who criticize the corn syrup in the bar products, for instance. But with its latest SKU sporting quinoa, Kellogg is going to gain some credibility even with those folks.