Kellogg’s Finds the Ingredients to Return To Being ‘Grrrreat!’


Kellogg's NYC cafe

The Kellogg Company wants to find more ways for people to enjoy its products: Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereals, Keebler crackers, Pop Tarts and other grain-based snacks. And if that means opening a cafe to serve wild variations of those things in the middle of New York City, then that’s what Kellogg was going to do.

But Kellogg faces much bigger challenges than whether a Manhattanite enjoyed the Corn Pops paired with lemon zest that award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi concocted at Kellogg’s NYC, even as it closes its “immersive cereal experience” temporarily with a move downtown to transform into a bigger space.

Like many large, old-line consumer-packaged-goods companies, Kellogg is trying to adapt to a new world in which the traditional strengths of its brand and products may not be as significant as the simplicity of the ingredient list on its packages, and in which Amazon and other retailers want the company to keep trimming profit margins on the products they do sell.

“Kellogg of Battle Creek,” Michigan, of course, was one of the original purveyors of better-for-you foods, starting as it did with a “vegetarian” food: corn flakes. In more than a century of growth, product proliferation and brand solidification, Kellogg, its cereals and mascots such as Tony the Tiger became staples of the breakfast table and pop culture.

Recognizing more than a decade ago that Americans’ concerns about carbohydrate consumption and other nutritional elements would pose a challenge, Kellogg emphasized the weight loss possibilities of its Special K brand and created a highly successful sub-brand around Special K cereals, bars and other snacks using the “Weight-Loss Challenge.”

Earlier this year, the brand launched a campaign touting female empowerment and wellness in overseas markets such as Australia, then brought it to the United States. Special K was the perfect vehicle for the “Own It!” message.

Kellogg also has been doing a better job lately of using all the brand-management levers at its disposal, and there have been some encouraging sales trends as it reimagines cereal. For example, for Frosted Flakes, the company launched a “Let Your Great Out” campaign earlier this year, starring an animatronic version of its iconic Tony the Tiger.