Rice Krispies Cereal was created by Eugene McKay for the Kellogg’s company in 1927 and released to the public in 1928. To create the crisped rice, rice grains are cooked, dried and toasted and then expand forming very thin and hollowed out walls that are crunchy. The cereal is most famous for the sounds it creates when subjected to heat and was referred to as “The Talking Cereal” (Kellog Canada, 2006). The sounds, most commonly known as “Snap, Crackle and Pop” became the slogan a year later. In 1933 the familiar characters known as Snack, Crackle and Pop were created and used as the cereal’s mascots but didn’t appear as animated characters until 1939 (Kellog Canada, 2006). They are the friendly gnomes with their own distinct personalities that relate to most kids. Today, the cereal is strongly recognized by the three mascots.
Rice Krispies is considered a family brand cereal. Family brand cereals include any brands for which are appropriate to serve to children, excluding those identified as child brands (Brownell et al. 2009). Rice Krispies addresses parents directly with reasons to feed their product to their children. Child features on the packaging, such as the three mascots, games and puzzles, provide evidence that child consumption is suggested, but don’t take away from the brand essence of being a toasted rice cereal.
Kellogg’s is currently the industry leader holding 34% of the $9 billion dollar ready-to-eat cereal industry (Shea, 2010). The key problem Rice Krispies faces is the awareness of the product versatility. Consumers are unaware of how Rice Krispies can be used in cooking and they lack the proper pull techniques to the available resources they offer on their website such as the numerous recipes and cook books. The secondary problem that is evident with Rice Krispies is their lack of appeal towards children. RiceKrispies.ca for example has a very hidden section for kids making the website completely directed towards parents.
Ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals are the largest category of packaged food marketed directly to children(Brownell et al. 2009). In 2006 alone, cereal companies spent $229 million to target children and adolescents (Brownell et al. 2009). Kellogg’s is the industry leader holding 34% of the $9 billion dollar RTE industry, but is losing market share to General Mills (31% of market) and Post (Shea, 2010). General Mills is also leading inthe all-important adult and all family segments. Their Cheerios brand continues to be the best franchise in the cereal category for both growth and profit (Shea, 2010). The RTE cereal industry altogether is struggling as 40% of Canadians are creating a trend skipping breakfast altogether (Parkinson, 2010).
RTE cereal brands will allface higher commodity prices in 2011 (Shea,2010). Some technological factors impacting all of the key market players include; shelf life optimization and extension techniques as well as the utilization of social media. These two will impact communication planning now or in the near future by offering consumers the freshest products as wellas valuable information about the product in regards to promotional offers.
The primary users of RTEcereals are families with children aged 6 to 17 (Magelonsky, 2010). They spend75 percent more than expected on ready-to-eat cereals. Those with kids underage 6 or aged 13 to 17 each spend 26 percent more than expected (Magelonsky,2010). Young singles under age 35 spend 54 percent less than expected on RTEcereals, and childless couples in the same age bracket spend 19 percent lessthan expected (Magelonsky, 2010).
General Mills and Posthave announced small price increases (+4%) on 25% to 33% of their product lines(Shea, 2010). Normally the industry leaders determine price leadership. Currently, General Mills has the momentum and Post desperately needs a more stable price. Kellogg's will likely respond with price increases. Competition based on value and nutrition continues to bedriven by a deal-seeking consumer. Two-thirds of every box of cereal is sold on some form of deal such as a cents off coupon (Roberts2004). This makes it critical for Kellogg’s to have a strong product innovation execution and cost-effective consumer promotion programs.Unfortunately for Kellogg’s, General Mills and private label brands appear tobe executing better at retail in the current market.
The main strengths of Rice Krispies are the brand repositioning, product extensions, the cereal versatility, and the mascots Snap, Crackle, and Pop. One of the most important strengths for Rice Krispies looking into the future is their brand repositioning as a nighttime snack (http://www.ricekrispies.ca/en/bedtime.html). The reason for this is that as consumption of other breakfast products increases as well as the overall decrease in the consumption of breakfast in general altogether(Parkinson, 2010) Rice Krispies is going to need another motivating factor to sell their product. This is also an effective repositioning strategy because research shows no other cereal has attempted to do this leaving an untapped market for Rice Krispies.
Product extensions such as Rice Krispies Squares are a strength for Rice Krispies because they can be purchased pre-made or can be made by the consumer. Since the consumer can create their own recipes with the original as a starting point it leads itself to a personalization of the product as well as inviting communication between consumers about their recipes.
The versatility of Rice Krispies and their many cooking applications is yet another strength. With fifteen main course recipes and over 60 treat recipes it is easy to see how Rice Krispies can be used in any sort of cooking (http://www.ricekrispies.ca/cgi-bin/rk_ca_2007/recipe_land.pl).
The Mascots Snap, Crackle, and Pop whose names come from the sound the cereal makes when exposed to pressure were introduced as animated characters in 1939 (Kellogg Canada, 2006). As one of the oldest cereal mascots they are one of the most recognizable (The History of Cereal, n.d.).
A weakness that is evident with the Rice Krispies cereal is its Nutritional Profiling Index or NPI. The NPI value is a measure of the overall nutrition quality that takes into account both positive and negative nutrients in foods. Scores range from 0 (Very Poor) to 100 (Very Good) (Brownell et al. 2009). Rice Krispies cereal has a score of 40-49, which is not considered nutritional. Although it’s main competitors are within the same range, the current health conscious trends show that Canadians are adapting more nutritional diets in their everyday meals (Health Canada, 2003). With breakfast being the most important meal of the day (Seibel, 2010), this gives Rice Krispies a negative image, as cereal is portrayed as a breakfast meal. Another weakness is Rice Krispies’ previous failures in brand extensions. Kellogg’s has tried numerous times to introduce new flavours of the Rice Krispies cereal such as; Strawberry Krispies, Banana Krispies, Razzle Dazzle Krispies, Marshmallow Rice Krispies, and Fruity Marshmallow Krispies. These past failures indicate that consumers are not willing to purchase product extensions of the cereal. The final weakness is the lack of appeal to children. With Snap, Crackle, and Pop being the oldest cereal mascots, and with the brand being completely recognizable by them, it is evident that Rice Krispies is not effectively marketing the mascots to children. There are no outlets available for children to playfully interact with the brand. This is a weakness, as the cereal becomes a second choice to its competitors.
The opportunities for Rice Krispies moving forward are social media, health conscious trends, promoting their website, producing more memorabilia, and repositioning their brand. Social media is by far the biggest opportunity for Rice Krispies.One reason for this is that compared to competitors Rice Krispies has significantly less fans. For example Lucky Charms has 13,239 fans while RiceKrispies only has 784 as of October 2009 (Brownell, Kelly., Bukofzer, Aliana.,Byrnes-Enoch, Hannah., Cheyne, Andrew., Dorfman, Lori., Harris, Jennifer., etal, 2009). There are two main aspects to social media that Rice Krispies canutilize; Facebook and Twitter. The pages that are currently on Facebook forRice Krispies appear to be created by people who wanted to share their appreciation for their beloved Rice Krispies and not by Kellogg’s itself. By creating a better and more thought out page Rice Krispies can utilize Facebookto reach out to young mothers/parents as well as youth. Facebook also has the unique capacity for online games that can be played with/against friends.Kellogg’s could use this to their advantage and develop and game with Snap, Crackle, and Pop for kids and youth. Facebook is also advantageous considering consumers want to interact with their brands and these interactions can lead to increased purchases as well as increased brand recommendation ().
Another possibility using Facebook is to expandthe characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop by creating a profile for each. Thiswould allow other Facebook users to add Snap, Crackle, and Pop as friends and learn about what gives them their individual personalities. While promoting the brand is all well and good the most important facet of Facebook and social media in general is data mining. With Facebook Kellogg’s can not only monitor what people are saying about their brand but can collect valuable consumer information such as age and gender (demographic), location (geographic), and interests, attitudes, and opinions (psychographic). This information will help to Rice Krispies to fine tune their positioning strategy and monitor and changes associated with their consumers. For the same reasons Facebook isuseful Twitter is also useful in the sense that it is yet another way consumers can interact with their brand as well as another way Rice Krispies can gather information about their consumers. Although a smaller portion of consumers interact with their brands through Twitter than through Facebook or email notification systems () Twitter was the fastest growing “member community destination” according to Neilsen growing a whopping 1,382% from February 2008 to February 2009 (McCarthy, 2009). Such rapid growth can only be seen as a sign of what is to come so Rice Krispies should develop asolid social media communication strategy before Twitter has reached the number of users other social media sites have.
A second opportunity for Rice Krispies is that society is becoming more health conscious. Although Rice Kripsies is not an overly healthy cereal since its only substantial ingredientis rice, the more important perspective is that it is not unhealthy. With society becoming more health conscious (Canadian Consumers, n.d.) and especially with child and adult obesity rates increasing (Stats Can, 2008) parents and the general public are looking for cereals that will help promote a balanced diet. Rice Krispies has already used an alliance with Adidas to produce a pedometer, and a promotion for an Adidas soccer t-shirt to try and align itself with the fitness and health attributes of a sporting good company. While this is a good start an ongoing effort in this respect will help further the healthy attributes of RiceKrispies as consumers associate the companies together more and more.
Rice Krispies/ Snap,Crackle, and Pop memorabilia is yet another opportunity for Rice Krispies to take advantage of. Kellogg’s should increase the promotion of their memorabilia for two reasons. Children who recognize Snap, Crackle, and Pop would enjoy stuffed animals or toys of the characters as well as cereals bowls or cups withthe characters on them. Today’s youth would also like Rice Krispies memorabilia, more specifically clothing with Snap, Crackle, and Pop on it suchas retro style t-shirts. These types of t-shirts have become popular among youth and are sold in chain stores such as Blue Notes, Detox, and Hot Topic aswell as kiosks in shopping centers (Lanham, 2009). The important aspect of reaching youth in this way is to trigger their nostalgia or emotion towards the brand when they are adults with their own families.
The four main threats facing Rice Krispies are the vulnerability to economic shifts such as the price of grain, a shrinking breakfast cereal market, and legal issues. In the recent past cereal companies have been victims to the rising price of grains increasing their cost. Although currently grain prices have dropped the cereal industry, and therefore Rice Krispies is still vulnerable to these price changes (Parkinson, 2010). If direct competition with other breakfast cereals was not enough Rice Krispies are now threatened by the cornucopia of substitute breakfast products on the market. Many Canadians are opting for yogurt, fruits,and even breakfast away more and more. On top of that 40% on Canadians are regularly skipping breakfast altogether (Parkinson, 2010). This has caused an increase in net sales growth for Kellogg’s (Kellogg Company, 2009). Legal issues are a threat for Rice Krispies because they have already been charged with lawsuits in the past and if this continues it can have a detrimental effect onthe brand’s image.
Based on these analyses,looking forward Rice Krispies should focus on promoting the versatility oftheir cereal as well as increasing their appeal to children.
As previously stated the marketing objective for Rice Krispies moving forward should be increasing awareness of the versatility of the product as well as increasing their appeal to children. To achieve the primary objective of versatility awareness the strategies employed include: social media, online advertising, in-store advertising, and mobile communications. To achieve the secondary objective of increasing appeal to children a new website will be designed.
This campaign will be targeted at families, or more specifically mothers. Besides the fact that this is their current target market, the reasons behind this are two-fold. For one, families with children between ages 6-17 have the highest consumption of cereal (Magelonsky, 2010). Secondly, the reason behind targeting mothers more specifically is that even though men are doing more of the grocery shopping, its the women that have the decision making power. This power comes in the form of the shopping list that is given to the men that often includes details such as which brand names to buy (Denoon, n.d.).
To increase the awareness of Rice Krispies versatility Rice Krispies will bepositioned as not only a breakfast cereal but as a bedtime snack as well as acooking ingredient. This positioning strategy will help achieve our maincommunications objective of increasing the awareness to the versatility of RiceKrispies.
The creative strategies employed to achieve our primary marketing objective areFacebook, online advertising, in-store advertising, and mobile communications.Our executions for these strategies are a Facebook page, a Facebook ad, bannerads, in-store sampling, and the utilization of a QR code.
Facebook in general is an effective medium to reach our target market as females have a higher usage rate as well as the mother age demographic (25-54) has the highestpercentage of Facebook users (Chappell, 2010). The “Moms Just Know” Facebookpage is a good medium because it can promote the Rice Krispies website, ties in with Rice Krispies current slogan, promotes consumer engagement, provides testimonials, and is measurable.
The fact that the “Moms Just Know” Facebook page has all of its content linked to the ricekrispies.ca website is beneficial for two reasons. First, it supports the primary marketing objective by promoting all the recipes found on ricekrispies.ca, and second, it creates greater inter-media consistency promoting the same promotions found on the website. Naming the page “Moms Just Know” also creates consistency by continuing the current tagline and alligns tooverall target market of the campaign. Facebook, like other social media, promotes consumer engagement by allowing consumers to post their own opinions, recipes, ideas, and thoughts on the “Moms Just Know” page sharing them withtheir friends as well as other fans of the page. The key to promotingengagement is to not have a page covered in corporate content. It is importantfor content to be conversational and of interest to the consumer (Creamer,2010). An example of this would be to ask the opinion of fan members (Black,2010). Facebook is also an excellent medium for consumer testimonials. The reason for this is that when anyone posts a recipe, review, or other content involving Rice Krispies they are essentially provided a testimonial of the product. Not only does the third party nature of these claims increase their legitimacy (The Benefits of Testimonials, 2010) but also continues to promote engagement as consumers can involve each other. Measurement is a huge advantage to using Facebook as it provides statistics such as page activity, “likes”, and demographics. Page activity calculates overall page views versus unique page views as well as viewing numbers of content such as photos, videos, and audio. It also allows tracking the popularity of the page through stickiness. The greater the gap between daily logged-in views and unique views the more people are coming back to the page and thus the stickier it is.