Nostalgically Delicious: Can Boomers Save Breakfast?

No doubt, most Boomers probably remember being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After all, how could they forget the barrage of sugar-coated options and aggressive kid-targeted marketing?

Ads for cereal and snacks usually fell between spots for Rock'em Sock'em Robots and Barbie’s Dream Something-or-other during the Saturday morning cartoon marathons, making Snap, Crackle and Pop as familiar as Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo and Spider Man. And often, the cereal’s taste (and nutritional “value”) took a backseat to the lure of a contest or the free toy inside the box.

But as the messaging shifted from “fun” to “nutrition,” the day’s first meal lost some of its importance, becoming a bland, inconvenient ritual that often got skipped. Now, after years of excess in the realm of food, those Boomer consumers who traded sugar and cartoons for a donut in the drive-thru are starting to take control of their diets. After all, they’re known for a forever young outlook on life and are beginning to face some age-related ailments. As they continue their careers and postpone retirement, their reliance on quick, healthy and mobile-friendly meals and snacks will only increase.

You can thank “Seinfeld” or their long memories, but it looks like Boomers can save breakfast, just like Sugar Bear saved Granny Goodwitch. A recent Rabobank report, “Cereal Killers,” shows that Millennials are grabbing Greek yogurt or a breakfast bar to go, while declining birthrates are putting a dent in the kiddie demographic. But, according to General Mills’ research, some 45% of adults over 50 reported not only still consuming cereal, but also turning to it as a snack. 

Kellogg Co. is planning some interesting product launches in an effort to both bring Boomers back to the breakfast table and start them snacking again, albeit in a healthy way, with some nutrition- and benefit-oriented innovation. New rollouts will include Kashi Heart to Heart Chia, Raisin Bran Omega-3 and Special K MultiGrain, along with some new formats for the Breakfast To Go shake line, Nutri-Grain breakfast biscuits and hot cereal. Analysts report that the company’s innovation has helped spur some growth in the wholesome “snackfast” business, due in part to the new Special K Pastry Crisps and Nutri-Grain bars.

It’s not an entirely new concept. At the other end of the spectrum, General Mills looked to encourage more adults to eat some sugary goodness as recently as 2012. The accompanying spot showed an office worker taking a spoonful of Lucky Charms and hallucinating about being transported to an alternate universe where she’s greeted by Lucky the Leprechaun (what was in those marshmallows, anyway?). The ad ends with her proclaiming that she’d forgotten how good the cereal tastes. 

As we’ve said before, if marketers are looking to revive a brand, consider the aspects of its heritage that will connect with older consumers, then create a bond with them by keeping the basic links with their past. Create a meaningful dialogue with that target. Freshen it up a bit. When it comes to something like sugary breakfast cereals that were a staple of childhood nostalgia, Boomers looking for a nostalgic treat may provide brands with a chance to retool some of their formulas and produce custom campaigns that will encourage those adults to revisit their old favorites. 

Although we don’t really picture Boomers returning to Trix or Sugar Smacks en masse anytime soon, they might respond if smart marketers find ways to reinvent and promote some of those nostalgic brands by combining iconic imagery with today’s health and wellness message. Using a mix of traditional and digital tools, campaigns should be built around active, healthy lifestyles. 

But don’t completely forget the fun: Kellogg has also rolled out peanut butter-flavored Pop-Tarts. No word if it plans to have Tony the Tiger endorse FiberPlus Antioxidants Bars.

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1 comment about "Nostalgically Delicious: Can Boomers Save Breakfast? ".
  1. Michael Berman from www.venturecatalyst.us , July 22, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
    Engine 2 is avail exclusively at whole foods. it is a great mix of all natural grains etc. no sugar. great for breakfast with berries already included. great for those not wanting refined sugar in their diet. Does not taste like you are eating the driveway !