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In the fiercely competitive ready-to-eat breakfast cereal category, Kellogg’s and General Mills are the two largest players. Yet Grape Nuts, the Post-owned brand recently purchased by Ralcrop Holdings, is initiating a new advertising campaign, with new positioning and a differentiated approach that may alter the cereal category overall.

Specifically, Grape Nuts is going after men! The brand formerly was marketed to women and families who would eat breakfast together. Most cereal brands have followed a similar pattern of domestic positioning. And Grape Nuts marketing executives keep at this strategy, despite market knowledge showing that the product is and always has been eaten mostly by men. Moreover, Grape Nuts has seen a sales decrease of 15 percent in the past year.

The newest advertising campaign attempt to entertain and give men a hearty chuckle. Dozens of “Webisodes,” or short online videos, feature ESPN’s Kenny Mayne in the voiceover. An MSN site contains features like “The Guy’s Manual,” with tips on how to restore vintage cars. New print ads, running in Sports Illustrated, depict men fishing and golfing, with a tongue-in-cheek slogan: “That Takes Grape Nuts.” The idea is that Grape Nuts is a masculine cereal—a “power food.”

Despite the innovativeness of this advertising campaign though, Grape Nuts executives might have forgotten about the primary household shoppers: women. Will this innovative advertising, aimed appropriately at the target market, ultimately translate into sales in the grocery store? To reinforce its message, Grape Nuts will include in-store marketing, in a campaign expected to cost $5 million, whereas in 2008, Grape Nuts spent only $1.9 million on advertising, down from $2.6 million in 2007.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is Grape Nuts cereal’s target market?
  2. What marketing efforts are part of Grape Nuts’ new positioning strategy?

Suzanne Vranica, “Grape Nuts Takes Aim at Men,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2009.